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Smooth Sections on Asteroid Itokawa

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Smooth Sections on Asteroid Itokawa


Why are parts of this asteroid's surface so smooth?

No one is yet sure, but it may have to do with the dynamics of an
asteroid that is a loose
pile of rubble rather than a solid rock.

The unusual asteroid is currently being visited by the
Japanese spacecraft
that is documenting its unusual structure and mysterious
lack of craters.

Last month, Hayabusa actually touched down on one of the smooth patches, dubbed the MUSES Sea, and
collected soil samples that will eventually be returned to Earth for analysis.

Unfortunately, the robot Hayabusa craft has been experiencing
communications problems and so its
departure for Earth has been delayed until 2007.

Computer simulations show that 500-meter asteroid Itokawa
may impact the Earth within the next few million years.

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