Wednesday, November 13, 2013

NASA & The Mysterious Rock

An asteroid in the asteroid belt somewhere between Mars & Jupiter has been photographed by the Hubble Telescope. Spewing jets of matter from its surface (see picture below). It has been given the auspicious title of P/2013 P5 and you may notice that between the two pictures NASA has provided it appears to have swung around significantly.

NASA has described it as “weird and freakish” and while that might be, odds are there are more similar to be found if the past is a predictor.

There are several ideas as to how it came about or is exhibiting such odd behavior. One such idea is the YORP effect. An effect that is the result of stars emitting protons & radiation which in turn push against objects that exist within its heliosphere causing rotation. Since space has next to no friction and and the pressure is constant, the asteroid spins.

As to the tail-like portions, there was a thought that perhaps it was ice, but that has been dismissed when the likely temperature of the rock was determined.

My opinion? (guess, really) What if the Jets were SiO2 reacting due to a temperature change or a mineral called "olivine" which is common in meteorites and asteroids, consisting of magnesium, silicon and oxygen in ratios according to its chemical formula Mg2SiO4.

One final comment-maybe this is an example of how we can deal with asteroids. Suppose we could shoot a beam that heated it to the point that broke apart a compound that freed O2 as a result hence pushing it off on a different trajectory. Just a thought.

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