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Thursday6 November 20037:53pm MST2003-11-07 UTC 0253
Today's news Page status: done
News from/about MPECs

MPEC 2003-V28 today announced comet C/2003 V1 (LINEAR), with the first observations shown from LINEAR coming from Tuesday morning. One of the first confirmation images is shown at right, from from Andre Knoefel at Essen Observatory yesterday morning. The preliminary calculation has this object's perihelion last April 7th at 1.515 AU — about the same distance from the Sun as Mars, but at an inclination of 28.9°, and traveling on a one-way parabolic path out of our solar system.

Among other recent MPECs today, including recoveries and discoveries, MPEC 2003-V36 announces a kilometer-sized object, 2003 VF1. It was discovered by LINEAR early yesterday, observed overnight by several observatories, and found to travel in an orbit just outside of Earth's. From its brightness (H=17.4), VF1's width is roughly estimated by standard formula at 1.14 km. (0.706 mile).

C/2003 V1 (LINEAR)
image from 5 Nov. 0449 UT
by Andre Knoefel at Essen Obs.
C/2003 V1 (LINEAR) seen near the star HIP 50691 yesterday. This is from Essen Observatory, also known as Walter Hohmann Observatory, in honor of the Essen civil engineer who, among other accomplishments, invented the Hohmann transfer orbital maneuver (more info).

MPEC 2003-V27 today is an Editorial Notice about software problems at the Minor Planet Center in generating Daily Orbit Update MPECs (DOUs) during the time when Minor Planet Circulars are being prepared. The fix is that the DOU software is being rewritten, thus DOUs "will not be issued automatically during the next several days (over the full-moon period), although it is possible that they will from time to time be prepared manually, while the new software is being tested."

Hermes animation by Begues Obs. 3 Nov.
Caught Monday by Begues Observatory, 1937 UB Hermes today was newly numbered 69230 Hermes.

For more info about this object, see "1937 UB Hermes Day-by-Day."
Numbers & names
The Minor Planet Center today updated its Discovery Circumstances pages with 119 new namings and 4,407 new numberings, now topping out at 73636 5727 T-3. First in line for a new number with its old name was 69230 Hermes (1937 UB), now the highest numbered asteroid with a name. As David Dixon commented to A/CC, 1937 UB was "numbered in less than 30 days" from recovery — 23 days to be exact.

As it happens, the new namings include 51741 Davidixon (2001 KQ50), and an asteroid that he and Janet Stevens discovered is newly named 60186 Las Cruces (1999 VH22) for the New Mexico location of their respective observatories.

3360 1981 VA remains the lowest numbered asteroid without a name, but a close contender did get its blank filled in: 3970 Herran (1979 ME9). A sampling of other namings include 24779 Presque Isle (1993 OD2) and 37163 Huachucaclub (2000 WD11). Eric Elst, who named ten asteroids in today's batch, continued a theme with 7079 Baghdad (1986 RR) and 56000 Mesopotamia (1998 SN144) (see August namings). Takao Kobayashi has 37 new namings, including 8930 Kubota (1997 AX3).

The most recent previous namings were announced October 8th, and the most recent numberings September 12th

Rosetta launch campaign
ESA has two news items issued or updated this week about the coming Rosetta comet landing mission. The first, "Rosetta Ready to Land on a Larger Comet," notes that the original concern with the landing planned for comet 46P/Wirtanen was bouncing hard enough to escape that comet's weak gravity. With the new larger destination, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, there is also concern about "absorbing the shock from a faster landing and the stability of the lander upon touchdown." The fix is a small bracket called a "tilt limiter" that has now been installed without having to remove the lander or its landing gear from where they are stowed aboard the Rosetta orbiter.

Rosetta lander (c)ESA
The Rosetta lander. Image courtesy of, and copyright, ESA.

The other ESA news item is a resumption of the Rosetta Journal with a November 4th entry, "Rosetta Launch Campaign Gets Underway." It tells about assembling and checking the main spacecraft's solar panels and high gain antenna.

Launch is slated for 26 February next year, with touch down in November 2014.

Radar news

Today's Daily Orbit Update MPEC carries radar observations of 1990 OS and 68950 2002 QF15 made yesterday at Arecibo in Puerto Rico. JPL's Steven Ostro, on behalf of the observing team, told the Minor Planet Mailing List (MPML) today:

Radar imaging of 68950 (2002 QF15) and 1990 OS shows each to be solitary and not overtly irregular in shape. Initial impressions are that 68950 is a 3.5-km object with a rotation period as long as five days if today's view is far from pole-on, and that 1990 OS is a several-hundred-meter object with a rotation period no longer than several hours. VIS/IR measurements are highly desirable to pin down these objects' physical properties. 

The radar 1990 OS planning page tells more about this object, which six days from now will come to about 8.9 lunar distances from Earth. Both it and 68950 2002 QF15 are on the radar schedules for further observation.

Note from the publisher

The radar news item at left brings up a point that I'd like to share with A/CC's readers.

A lesson learned over the years, going back to electronic bulletin boards (BBSs) before the Internet, is that it is not good journalistic practice to monitor forums, mailing lists, etc. to ferret news from large flows of messages. Participation is open to the public, but is also informal and much like private conversation, with things said that likely would be put otherwise if knowingly for public quotation. There are also copyright and other control issues. And, with most mailing lists, messages cannot be linked directly. A/CC is diligent in providing source info links, but it is our policy not to use links that require an intermediate stop for registration.

During a news uproar last year, members of some lists posted messages fuming about journalist "lurkers" in their midst, which reinforced my opinion about list monitoring. But A/CC does watch the digest version of one list (CCNet), which is a linkable document, and we do occasionally excerpt news items from lists. In all such cases, such as that at left, the item was forwarded to A/CC by mailing list members who felt that it should get A/CC's attention.

So, as an advisory to people with news, and as a note to list members, if you have or see news that should be reported to A/CC's readers, its appearance on a mailing list will not necessarily get it brought to our notice. For that, news should be sent directly to A/CC. — Bill Allen

News briefs

eSTAR:  Wired News has an article from yesterday, "Autopilot Telescopes Ease Gazing." It tells about eSTAR, an open source joint project of groups at Liverpool John Moores University and University of Exeter "to build an intelligent robotic telescope network" to run on next-generation high-bandwidth Internet infrastructure ("the Grid"). The first results were announced from the 3.8m U.K. Infrared Telescope in Hawaii in an October 14th news release about finding a dwarf nova. It reports that the eSTAR intelligent agent, which is meant to assist rather than replace astronomers, "can detect and respond to the rapidly changing universe faster than any human, and make decisions to observe an object much faster than would otherwise be possible."

This autonomous response to novae, near-Earth asteroids, and other transient events will eventually involve multiple telescopes worldwide. For more about British robotic telescopes, see the A/CC news archive.

News updates:  The November 4th solar flare has now been confirmed as the largest yet observed from space, but it was aimed away from Earth and isn't expected to cause mid-latitude aurora. Yesterday's item about Voyager 1 has been updated with three more article links. Many newspapers also have reports (the award for best headline goes to "Voyager 1 Reaches a Point of Contention," at the Los Angeles Times).

Summary Risk Table - sources checked at 0049 UTC, 7 Nov




 2003 UX34JPL 11/32040-20401-4.76-4.7607.080
 2003 UO12NEODyS 11/4R E M O V E D
JPL 11/42067-20671-7.92-7.92013.624
 2003 TH2JPL 11/6R E M O V E D
NEODyS 11/4R E M O V E D
VI = count of "virtual impactors" (impact solutions)
See A/CC's Consolidated Risk Tables for more and maybe
  newer details, and check the monitors' links for latest info.

Risk monitoring 6 Nov.
The JPL NEOs Removed from Impact Risks Tables page shows that 2003 TH2 was removed at 8:15pm last night, Pasadena time, which was early on the 6th UTC.

Neither of the two remaining objects with impact solutions and under recent observation have new positions reported in this morning's Daily Orbit Update MPEC for today and yesterday.
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