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Structure of Asteroid 2011 MD

Structure of Asteroid 2011 MD

C026/4222

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Credit

NASA / JPL-CALTECH / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / JPL-CALTECH / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Structure of Asteroid 2011 MD. Computer illustration showing one of the proposed structures for asteroid 2011 MD. MD is a small asteroid being considered by NASA for its proposed Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), a potential future space mission to rendezvous with a near-Earth asteroid (NEA) and retrieve a boulder from it. Observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have helped to reveal that 2011 MD consists of about two-thirds empty space. There are several possible structures that would explain such an asteroid. One is that it consists of a solid rock with a halo of fine debris around it (shown here). Another is that it is a fleet of flying boulders.

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