How About Those Trojans?

Asteroid BeltNasa released some interesting news about the Trojan asteroids today, which occupy leading and trailing positions in Jupiter’s orbit surrounding the L4 and L5 Lagrange points, respectively. NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Explorer (WISE) has been generating some interesting results, which NASA released at the 44th annual meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society in Reno, Nevado. This research information will also be published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Here’s a mind-boggling quote from NASA:

Before WISE, the main uncertainty defining the population of Jupiter Trojans was just how many individual chunks were in these clouds of space rock and ice leading Jupiter, and how many were trailing. It is believed that there are as many objects in these two swarms leading and trailing Jupiter as there are in the entirety of the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

For science fiction fans, it looks like one of SF’s favorite character types, the space prospector, or asteroid miner, should be hanging out with the Trojans, maybe not in the main asteroid belt.

And there’s also news about the types of asteroids in the Trojans. According to Tommy Grav, a WISE scientist from the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, the asteroids are mostly type D, with some Type C and Type P asteroids. The Trojans and the Greeks all seem to be similar to each other. However, they’re not like the other asteroids in the main asteroid belt or in the Kuiper belt, leading some to speculate that they may consist of leftover primordial material from the creation of the solar system — some of the oldest rocks in the entire solar system.

For more information see Nasa’s article about the WISE findings.

Posted in Projects, Science | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments