Bennu’s Topography

This three-dimensional view of near Earth asteroid Bennu was created by the Canadian Space Agency’s Laser Altimeter aboard NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. The colors represent the distance from the center of Bennu: dark blue areas lie about 60 meters below the peaks indicated in red. Because some parts of the asteroid have not yet been measured, there are gaps in the image.

Credits: NASA / University of Arizona / CSA /York / MDA

A Coming Attraction

On 13 April, 2029, a dot of light will streak across the sky getting brighter and going faster. At one point, it will travel more than the width of the full Moon within a minute, and it will get as bright as the stars in the Little Dipper. But it won’t be a satellite or an airplane. It will be a 340-meter-wide near-Earth asteroid called 99942 Apophis. It will cruise past Earth roughly 31,000 km above the surface. That’s inside the orbits of geostationary satellites. This animation shows the distance between the Apophis asteroid and Earth at the time of the asteroid’s closest approach. The blue dots are man-made satellites in orbit our planet, and the pink dot moving diagonally near the Earth represents the International Space Station.

Animation Credits: Marina Brozović / JPL

Messier 75

This is Messier 75. It’s a globular cluster, a spherical collection of stars bound together by gravity. It’s around 67,000 light-years away. The majority of the cluster’s 400,000 stars are in its core, making it is one of the most densely packed clusters ever found. It’s extremely bright,180,000 times brighter than the Sun.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

Arp 81

ARP81This distorted pair of galaxies is called Arp 81. About 100 million years ago, they had a close encounter, and the havoc wreaked by their mutual gravitational interaction resulted ing twisted streams of gas and dust, a chaos of massive star formation, and a tidal tail of debris stretching for a couple of hundred thousand light-years. NGC 6622 (left) and NGC 6621(right) are more of less equal in size. They are destined to merge into one larger galaxy in the distant future, after a mating dance of repeated approaches. The galaxies are 280,000,000 light-years away in the constellation Draco.

Image Credit: NASA