On December 10, 2018 Dr. Paul Abell, a representative of NASA’s Huston based asteroid division, visited our school to give us insight into comets and asteroids. He was in Japan for JAXA’s Hayabusa 2 mission on Ryugu, in collaboration with NASA’s Osiris Rex, which is currently orbiting the asteroid Benneu. Dr. Abell began by giving us a scale of the solar system. He lectured the high school on how asteroids and comets are becoming the next focus for astronomy and space technology due to the composition and sheer number in our solar system. He brought up their importance of his field with a simulation showing the number of asteroid discoveries from the 1950’s to the present. In the 1950’s there were an approximate 20 to 30 known comets/asteroids. Now, there are over 8 million in known existence. Further elaboration hinted that these celestial bodies could provide insight into the formation of our solar system giving us vital clues about how life on Earth came to be. The speech progressed into a lot of detail about the classification of comets based on their orbit, the Hayabusa 2 and Osiris Rex mission objectives and milestones, and the focus on comets as the main target for future space missions. The presentation concluded with a question and answer session with Dr Abell. On the whole, students interested in space technologies found this a very interesting and informative session. Eavesdropping in on some of the conversations students were having after the presentation, many found the presentation to be a bit confusing as there was a lot of information delivered in very little time. Most of them wanted the presentation to be slightly longer so that they could understand some of the key features more clearly.
Article by Anurag Sritharan
Image acquired from: https://space.skyrocket.de/doc_sdat/hayabusa-2.htm