Source: Universe Today
Itokawa, a dusty asteroid. Credit: JAXA.
Images sent back from space missions suggest that smaller asteroids are not pristine chunks of rock, but are instead covered in rubble that ranges in size from meter-sized boulders to flour-like dust. Indeed some asteroids appear to be up to 50% empty space, suggesting that they could be collections of rubble with no solid core.
But how do these asteroids form and evolve? And if we ever have to deflect one, to avoid the fate of the dinosaurs, how to do so without breaking it up, and making the danger far greater?
Johannes Diderik van der Waals (1837-1923), with a little help from Daniel Scheeres, Michael Swift, and colleagues, to the rescue. (Read more)