Scientists with NASA's Dawn mission released new, up-close photos of Ceres on Tuesday at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas. Low-orbit images of the dwarf planet located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter were highly anticipated because of what they could potentially say about the Occator Crater. Bright spots on Ceres have perplexed scientists since NASA's Dawn mission sent images of them back last year. And measuring 57 miles across and 2.5 miles deep, Occator Crater holds the brightest area on the entire planet. The new images taken 240 miles from Ceres' surface – Dawn's lowest-altitude orbit – did not disappoint.
WASHINGTON – Scientists have identified Earth's oldest-known impact crater, and in doing so may have solved a mystery about how our planet emerged from one of its most dire periods. Researchers have determined that the 45-mile-wide (70-km) Yarrabubba crater in Australia formed when an asteroid struck Earth just over 2.2 billion years ago. The collision occurred at a time when the planet was believed to have been encased in ice and the impact may have driven climate warming that led to a global thaw. "Looking at our planet from space, it would have looked very different," said isotope geology professor Chris Kirkland of Curtin University in Australia, one of the researchers in the study published in the journal Nature Communications. "You would see a white ball, not our familiar blue marble."
The moon is under constant bombardment by meteorites and asteroids that can leave massive craters on its surface. The Aitken basin, the largest impact crater on the lunar surface, has a diameter equivalent to the distance from London to Athens, Greece. But not all craters are so noticeable -- most are relatively insignificant. Thousands of previously unknown craters have been spotted on the moon thanks to an artificial intelligence program designed by researchers at the University of Toronto. "We created an A.I. powered method that autocratically identifies craters on the surface of the moon, and possibly other bodies," Mohamad Ali-Dib, a postdoctoral fellow in the Centre for Planetary Sciences who worked on the project, told Digital Trends.
One of the biggest challenges in astronomy is also the most obvious: space is big, and it takes a long time to look at it all. This is why artificial intelligence has been such a boon to this science. It turns out that the same machine vision tools developed for tasks like guiding self-driving cars are also perfect for sorting through vast amounts of astronomical data. So, astronomers announced this month that they'd used AI to find 6,000 new craters on the Moon. The Moon is estimated to have hundreds of thousands of craters, mostly caused by impacts with asteroids and meteors.
Scientists have succeeded in creating what they called the first-ever artificial crater on an asteroid, a step toward shedding light on how the solar system evolved, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said Thursday. The announcement comes after the Hayabusa2 probe fired an explosive device April 5 at the Ryugu asteroid, around 340 million kilometers from Earth, to blast a crater in the surface and scoop up material, aiming to reveal more about the origins of life on Earth. Yuichi Tsuda, Hayabusa2 project manager, told reporters they confirmed the crater from images captured by the probe located 1,700 meters (5,500 feet) from the asteroid's surface. "Creating an artificial crater with an impactor and observing it in detail afterward is a world-first attempt," Tsuda said. "This is a big success."