Dust ‘jumped’ from an asteroid could give a space rock a push that changes its trajectory

(ORDO NEWS) — Jumping gallop! Dust “jumping” on the surface of an asteroid can affect the trajectory of the space rock in space.

Thanks to new images of the surface of asteroids Bennu and Ryugu, astronomers can now try to explain the trajectory of these space rocks around the Sun and in the vicinity of the Earth.

“The more these asteroids lose fine-grained material, or regolith, the faster they move through space,” said lead author Hsiang-Wen Hsu, a researcher at the University of Colorado’s Atmospheric and Space Physics Laboratory at Boulder, USA, in the statement made.

A series of “curious” photographs of the surface of the asteroid Bennu, taken using the OSIRIS-REx satellite, whose mission is to collect soil samples from the surface of a space rock and bring them to Earth, caused a lively discussion among astronomers – it turned out that the surface is not smooth, as expected , but rather, it looks like “sandpaper”.

The images of the surface of the asteroid Ryugu, made using the Japanese Hayabusa-2 apparatus, looked similar.

Su and his team, using computer simulations and a laboratory experiment, studied the behavior of small soil particles on the asteroid’s surface.

“Forces similar to static electricity can eject the smallest dust particles, no larger than a single bacterium, from the surface of an asteroid into space – leaving only larger rocks on the surface,” the statement said.

A similar process can also develop in places like the rings of Saturn, where a large number of tiny moons devoid of atmosphere orbit.

Asteroids are constantly rotating bodies, and because they are small, the amount of sunlight falling on the surface changes significantly over a relatively short period of time, resulting in rapid cracking of the rocks.

Even dust particles are subject to this process, which are thrown into space by a process called electrostatic levitation. Sunlight falling on the regolith gradually causes the accumulation of a negative charge on individual dust particles, resulting in their mutual repulsion.

When the accumulated charge reaches a high enough value, the particles “jump off the asteroid” at speeds of over 30 kilometers per hour.

This loss of dust not only produces a “sandpaper” landscape, as in the case of the asteroids Bennu and Ryugu, but can also cause the asteroid to lose large amounts of dust over time.

rockA “cleaner” surface is more susceptible to the influence of solar radiation, thus causing a gradual change in the orbit of the space rock, the authors show.


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