NASA’s first planetary defense mission will nudge an asteroid By Adam Mann, Science Magazine.  Excerpt: Intentional crash of robotic probe will test way to avert asteroid impacts on Earth. In the name of planetary defense, NASA is set to launch a robotic probe next week that in late 2022 will hurtle into a sizable space rock in the hopes of nudging its orbit. Although the celestial target of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) poses no danger to our planet, the mission will assess the feasibility of deflecting potentially hazardous objects away from Earth.… [ DART successfully launched last night (Tuesday, Nov. 23, at 10:21 p.m. PST)] See also New York Times article .

It Follows Earth Around the Sun. Just Don’t Call It a Moon By Robin George Andrews , The New York Times.  Excerpt: ...a little rock would decide to tag along with Earth and the moon on their yearly circumnavigation of the sun. Said rock, 165 feet long, was discovered in 2016 by Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS 1 asteroid-hunting telescope. This eccentric entity’s Hawaiian name, (469219)  Kamoʻoalewa , means “wobbling celestial object.” As it repeatedly loops around Earth, this shy body never gets closer than 9 million miles, which is 38 times farther out than the moon. It gets as distant as 25 million miles away before swinging back around for a closer encounter. Calculations of its orbital waltz indicate that it began trailing our planet in a relatively stable manner  about a century ago , and it will continue to pirouette around Earth for several centuries to come. a paper published Thursday in  Communications Earth & Environment , a team of scientists reported ... that it

Star System With Right-Angled Planets Surprises Astronomers By Jonathan O’Callaghan , The New York Times.  Excerpt: Two planets orbit the poles while another revolves around the star’s equator, suggesting a mysterious, undetected force.… See also A Mysterious, Undetected Force Is Influencing the Orbit of Two Alien Worlds and the paper -- The Rossiter–McLaughlin effect revolutions: an ultra-short period planet and a warm mini-Neptune on perpendicular orbits .

Dinosaurs thrived until the moment asteroid hit, excavators of controversial site claim By Michael Price, Science Magazine.  Excerpt: ...Two years ago, a paleontologist claimed to have found evidence at a fossil-rich North Dakotan site called Tanis that dinosaurs were alive until moments after the impact, when floodwaters surged over them. But many paleontologists were skeptical, especially because the dinosaur data were first discussed in a magazine story rather than a peer-reviewed journal. Last week, at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA) in Portland, Oregon, paleontologist Robert DePalma and colleagues added detail to their claims. They presented evidence of fossils from Tanis—including stunningly well-preserved bones, skin, and footprints from what’s probably a  Triceratops —that suggest dinosaurs were indeed witnesses to the asteroid that ushered them out of existence.…

Meteorite Crashes Through Ceiling and Lands on Woman’s Bed By  John Yoon  and  Vjosa Isai , The New York Times.  Excerpt: Ruth Hamilton was fast asleep in her home in British Columbia when she awoke to the sound of her dog barking, followed by “an explosion.” She jumped up and turned on the light, only to see a hole in the ceiling. Her clock said 11:35 p.m. ...“Oh, my gosh,” she recalled telling the operator, “there’s a rock in my bed.” A meteorite, she later learned. The 2.8-pound rock the size of a large man’s fist had barely missed Ms. Hamilton’s head, leaving “drywall debris all over my face,” she said. Her close encounter on the night of Oct. 3 left her rattled, but it  captivated the internet  and handed scientists an unusual chance to study a space rock that had crashed to Earth.…

Astronomers Found a Planet That Survived Its Star’s Death By  Becky Ferreira , The New York Times.  Excerpt: When our sun enters its death throes in about five billion years, it will incinerate our planet and then dramatically collapse into a dead ember known as a white dwarf. But the fate of more distant planets, such as Jupiter or Saturn, is less clear. On Wednesday  in the journal Nature , astronomers reported observing a tantalizing preview of our solar system’s afterlife: a Jupiter-size planet orbiting a white dwarf some 6,500 light years from here. Known as MOA-2010-BLG-477Lb, the planet occupies a comparable orbit to Jupiter. The discovery not only offers a glimpse into our cosmic future, it raises the possibility that any life on “survivor” worlds may endure the deaths of their stars. ...“The fate of our solar system is likely to be similar to MOA-2010-BLG-477Lb,” he added in an email. “The sun will become a white dwarf, the inner planets will be engulfed, and the wide

This May Be the First Planet Found Orbiting 3 Stars at Once Source: By Jonathan O’Callaghan , The New York Times.  Excerpt: It’s called a circumtriple planet, and evidence that one exists suggests that planet formation is less unusual than once believed. ...GW Ori is a star system 1,300 light years from Earth in the constellation of Orion. It is surrounded by a huge disk of dust and gas, a common feature of young star systems that are forming planets. But fascinatingly, it is a system with not one star, but three. ...GW Ori’s disk is split in two, almost like Saturn’s rings if they had a massive gap in between. ...Scientists  have been trying to explain  what is going on there. Some hypothesized that the gap in the disk could be the result of  one or more planets  forming in the system. ...Now the GW Ori system has been  modeled  in greater detail, and researchers say a planet — a gassy world as massive as Jupiter — is the best explanation for the gap in the dust cloud. Although