Asteroids, comets and Kuiper belt

Asteroids, comets and Kuiper belt are bodies smaller than planets that orbit the sun. Asteroids are composed of metals and rock, whereas comets also contain ice and dust. The Kuiper belt is a collection of such bodies that orbits at the edge of the solar system.

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Latest Research and Reviews

  • Research
    | Open Access

    Mercury has a global dayside exosphere that is very tenuous and does not extend far from the planet. Here, the authors show enhancement of neutral densities at high altitudes inferred from pickup ions that is most likely caused by the impact of a meteroid.

    • Jamie M. Jasinski
    • , Leonardo H. Regoli
    • , Timothy A. Cassidy
    • , Ryan M. Dewey
    • , Jim M. Raines
    • , James A. Slavin
    • , Andrew J. Coates
    • , Daniel J. Gershman
    • , Tom A. Nordheim
    •  & Neil Murphy
  • Research |

    In situ measurements from the Rosetta spacecraft reveal the presence of atomic emissions close to comet 67P’s nucleus. Such emissions are due to dissociative excitation of molecules by the interaction with the solar wind, identifying them as a form of aurora.

    • M. Galand
    • , P. D. Feldman
    • , D. Bockelée-Morvan
    • , N. Biver
    • , Y.-C. Cheng
    • , G. Rinaldi
    • , M. Rubin
    • , K. Altwegg
    • , J. Deca
    • , A. Beth
    • , P. Stephenson
    • , K. L. Heritier
    • , P. Henri
    • , J. Wm. Parker
    • , C. Carr
    • , A. I. Eriksson
    •  & J. Burch
  • Research |

    Six bright boulders of exotic material on near-Earth asteroid (101955) Bennu stand out from the average asteroidal surface. This unexpected record of impactors offers clues to the formation history of Bennu.

    • D. N. DellaGiustina
    • , H. H. Kaplan
    • , A. A. Simon
    • , W. F. Bottke
    • , C. Avdellidou
    • , M. Delbo
    • , R.-L. Ballouz
    • , D. R. Golish
    • , K. J. Walsh
    • , M. Popescu
    • , H. Campins
    • , M. A. Barucci
    • , G. Poggiali
    • , R. T. Daly
    • , L. Le Corre
    • , V. E. Hamilton
    • , N. Porter
    • , E. R. Jawin
    • , T. J. McCoy
    • , H. C. Connolly Jr
    • , J. L. Rizos Garcia
    • , E. Tatsumi
    • , J. de Leon
    • , J. Licandro
    • , S. Fornasier
    • , M. G. Daly
    • , M. M. Al Asad
    • , L. Philpott
    • , J. Seabrook
    • , O. S. Barnouin
    • , B. E. Clark
    • , M. C. Nolan
    • , E. S. Howell
    • , R. P. Binzel
    • , B. Rizk
    • , D. C. Reuter
    •  & D. S. Lauretta
  • Research |

    The Hayabusa2 team has discovered two types of bright boulder on the dark, carbonaceous asteroid Ryugu. One type has a spectrum consistent with material from an anhydrous silicate-rich asteroid, likely introduced by one or more collisions in Ryugu’s past.

    • E. Tatsumi
    • , C. Sugimoto
    • , L. Riu
    • , S. Sugita
    • , T. Nakamura
    • , T. Hiroi
    • , T. Morota
    • , M. Popescu
    • , T. Michikami
    • , K. Kitazato
    • , M. Matsuoka
    • , S. Kameda
    • , R. Honda
    • , M. Yamada
    • , N. Sakatani
    • , T. Kouyama
    • , Y. Yokota
    • , C. Honda
    • , H. Suzuki
    • , Y. Cho
    • , K. Ogawa
    • , M. Hayakawa
    • , H. Sawada
    • , K. Yoshioka
    • , C. Pilorget
    • , M. Ishida
    • , D. Domingue
    • , N. Hirata
    • , S. Sasaki
    • , J. de León
    • , M. A. Barucci
    • , P. Michel
    • , M. Suemitsu
    • , T. Saiki
    • , S. Tanaka
    • , F. Terui
    • , S. Nakazawa
    • , S. Kikuchi
    • , T. Yamaguchi
    • , N. Ogawa
    • , G. Ono
    • , Y. Mimasu
    • , K. Yoshikawa
    • , T. Takahashi
    • , Y. Takei
    • , A. Fujii
    • , Y. Yamamoto
    • , T. Okada
    • , C. Hirose
    • , S. Hosoda
    • , O. Mori
    • , T. Shimada
    • , S. Soldini
    • , R. Tsukizaki
    • , T. Mizuno
    • , T. Iwata
    • , H. Yano
    • , M. Ozaki
    • , M. Abe
    • , M. Ohtake
    • , N. Namiki
    • , S. Tachibana
    • , M. Arakawa
    • , H. Ikeda
    • , M. Ishiguro
    • , K. Wada
    • , H. Yabuta
    • , H. Takeuchi
    • , Y. Shimaki
    • , K. Shirai
    • , N. Hirata
    • , Y. Iijima
    • , Y. Tsuda
    • , S. Watanabe
    •  & M. Yoshikawa
  • Research
    | Open Access

    Dawn mission’s second extended phase provided high resolution observations of Occator crater of the dwarf planet Ceres. Here, the authors show stereo imaging and topographic maps of this crater revealing the influence of crustal composition on impact related melt and hydrothermal processes, and compare features to those on Mars, Earth and the Moon.

    • P. Schenk
    • , J. Scully
    • , D. Buczkowski
    • , H. Sizemore
    • , B. Schmidt
    • , C. Pieters
    • , A. Neesemann
    • , D. O’Brien
    • , S. Marchi
    • , D. Williams
    • , A. Nathues
    • , M. De Sanctis
    • , F. Tosi
    • , C. T. Russell
    • , J. Castillo-Rogez
    •  & C. Raymond
  • Research |

    High-resolution data of Ceres’s bright spots (faculae), obtained by Dawn’s second extended mission, suggest the existence of a deep brine-rich reservoir that emerged to the surface through long-lived cryovolcanic activity as a consequence of the impact that created Occator crater.

    • C. A. Raymond
    • , A. I. Ermakov
    • , J. C. Castillo-Rogez
    • , S. Marchi
    • , B. C. Johnson
    • , M. A. Hesse
    • , J. E. C. Scully
    • , D. L. Buczkowski
    • , H. G. Sizemore
    • , P. M. Schenk
    • , A. Nathues
    • , R. S. Park
    • , T. H. Prettyman
    • , L. C. Quick
    • , J. T. Keane
    • , M. D. Rayman
    •  & C. T. Russell
    Nature Astronomy 4, 741-747

News and Comment

  • News and Views |

    The Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx teams have unexpectedly found bright boulders on their respective dark asteroids, Ryugu and Bennu, which provide solid clues about the composition and origin of impacting bodies in their formation history.

    • M. Cristina De Sanctis
  • Editorial |

    Before its demise, the Dawn spacecraft performed a series of low passes over the bright spots of dwarf planet Ceres. These high-resolution data highlight the nature of Ceres as an active ocean world with unique characteristics.

  • News and Views |

    Long believed to be a primitive body, Ceres is now an ocean world with deep brines at a regional and potentially global scale. Further studies at Ceres’s conditions and — above all — a follow-up mission are needed to study its evolution and potential habitability.

    • Julie Castillo-Rogez
    Nature Astronomy 4, 732-734
  • Comments and Opinion |

    In its second extended mission at Ceres, the Dawn spacecraft returned a harvest of high-resolution data on the intriguing Occator crater, a landmark for understanding the role of impacts in shaping ice-rich bodies, explain Project Scientist Julie Castillo-Rogez and Chief Engineer Marc Rayman.

    • Julie C. Castillo-Rogez
    •  & Marc D. Rayman