Comets are an incredible thing to see in the night sky. However, it takes years for an asteroid to become one. Fortunately, astronomers can now identify a space rock that will one day become a comet. We know that because it happened recently.
The Astrological Centaur
When an asteroid goes through the process of turning into a comet, it becomes known as a centaur. The name makes sense, given that in mythology, the creature is two different animals presented as one being. In astrology, a centaur is neither an asteroid nor a comet, although it will eventually become the latter. According to Kat Volk, a planetary scientist, one such wonder was discovered back in May.
The First Sighting
The astrological centaur was witnessed by the ATLAS telescope and became known as P/2019 LD2. This sighting was notable because it was the first time that scientists had actually spotted a centaur. Normally, discoveries are only made after an asteroid has transformed into a comet, but not this time. It’ll apparently be another 43 years before that change occurs, so Volk and her colleagues did well to spot it when they did.
A Wealth Of Information
It’s believed that centaurs like this – which contain rock and ice in unstable orbits – originate from the Kuiper Belt beyond Neptune. They orbit the sun roughly every decade, meaning they’re sometimes viewable from the Earth. Usually, scientists aren’t able to deduce much about a comet’s history because they’re never seen during their centaur state. However, this new discovery changes that. While other comets may still remain a mystery to them, LD2 is a wealth of information. That’s how Volk and her team knows that it will likely complete its transformation in 2063.
It’ll be hard to make any solid conclusions about the wider universe with just this one space rock. However, if more discoveries are made, then the solar system will gradually become clearer.
Autonomous Fleets of Robots Will Now Make Deliveries In More Cities
Starship Technologies is an autonomous delivery startup that’s all about providing a robot food delivery service. Following a $40 million funding round, the company that was launched in 2014 by Skype co-founders Janus Friis and Ahti Heinla, was planning to expand these services. Now that traditional restaurants are closing their doors, Starship Technologies has seized the opportunity and is accelerating its growth.
Starship Technologies Is Expanding Its Robot Delivery Services
The robot delivery services were expanded to Tempe, AZ and grocery delivery services were added for Washington, D.C. This was also later implemented in Irvine, CA. The autonomous robots were also sent to Milton Keynes, U.K. back in 2018. The company now plans to expand to even more cities in the next few weeks.
Ryan Tuohy, who is Starship Technologies’ head of business development, said that the demand for contactless delivery is what drives the exponential expansion in recent weeks. The company is looking forward to the expansion, as more and more people are looking for ways to support local businesses while staying at home. Its robot fleets are doing autonomous deliveries for people in five countries, and the company hopes their efforts can make life at least a bit easier for them.
The Robots Operate In Rain and Snow
Every autonomous robot can carry around 20 pounds of cargo and that makes it ideal for people who need to get food and groceries without having to leave their home or visit stores in person. The Starship Deliveries app allows users to place their orders conveniently, and then they can watch the robot’s progress on an interactive map. The robots can climb curbs, cross streets, and travel at night. They can operate in rain and snow, and are monitored remotely by human operators who can take control if necessary.
The delivery service in Tempe will start with 30 autonomous robots, delivering items from several restaurants in a service area near the Arizona State University. Starship Technologies plan to expand the Tempe service area by adding more grocery stores and restaurants soon.