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Tuesday11 November 20034:29pm MST2003-11-11 UTC 2329
Today's news Page status: done

UH 2.2m NEO follow-up
The University of Hawaii 2.2m Telescope on Mauna Kea has a new 16-megapixel infrared camera, which a UH Institute for Astronomy November 3rd news release says "makes the 30-year-old . . . telescope the most powerful in the world for infrared imaging." But what David Tholen is looking forward to, he tells A/CC, is "the completion of our 64-megapixel CCD camera upgrade. . .  We're also constructing a focal reducer that will triple our sky area coverage with that camera." Meanwhile, using the old CCD camera, "we've been putting the telescope time to good use doing NEO follow-up and second-opposition recovery, taking advantage of our aperture and site characteristics (good seeing) to tackle objects beyond the range of most observers."

That work resulted in 21 update MPECs published September 26th through November 7th (plus another today, see below), all involving post-doctoral student Fabrizio Bernardi, and most with Tholen as lead observer or other credit. The 21 objects, which include PHOs 2002 TB70 [link|alt] and 2003 ED50 [link|alt], ranged in apparent magnitude from R=20.9 to 24.3, with absolute magnitudes that roughly convert to widths from 160 meters/yards to 2.06 km. (1.28 miles).

Dr. Tholen makes note of "the quality of the astrometry we're able to achieve using the USNO-B1.0 catalog. Our typical astrometric fits are better than 0.2 arcsec, and the centroiding error on the object also tends to be better than 0.2 arcsec, so we're getting excellent orbit solution residuals."

2002 VX91 recovered
MPEC 2003-V54 today announces the recovery of 2002 VX91 [link|alt]. It was last seen during an urgent November 2002 observing campaign, and is a Tunguska-class object estimated at about 50 meters/yards wide that has a minimum orbit intersection distance (MOID) with Earth of about 0.61 lunar distance.

The observations were made by Fabrizio Bernardi, observer, and David Tholen, measurer, using the University of Hawaii 2.2m telescope on Mauna Kea (see article above) during 29-30 October.

Prof. Tholen tells A/CC that "the ephemeris uncertainty region was at its smallest [the night of October 29th] as the three-dimensional ellipsoid was rotating from our perspective, such that we were looking down its long axis. On Oct 28, one sigma was 116 arcsec, and on Oct 30, one sigma was 145 arcsec, but on Oct 29, it was only 20 arcsec (all at 14 UT)."

He also notes that 2002 VX91 has "quite a lightcurve variation (a [full] magnitude) and is obviously a fast rotator."

P/2003 U3 (NEAT)
Begues Obs. 3 Nov. 2003 P/2003 U3 (NEAT) imaged 3 Nov. 2003 by Begues Observatory.
Credit: Pepe Manteca.
News briefs

Comets:  The Minor Planet Center today posted update MPECs for eight comets under recent observation, from C/2003 S4 (LINEAR) through C/2003 V1 (LINEAR), including P/2003 U3 (NEAT), for which the latest observations reported came from Begues Observatory in Spain on November 3rd, shown here.

Eyes in the sky:  The Jewish World Review has an article headlined, "'Paul Revere' scientist suggests unusual asteroid warning system." It tells that William A. Hoffman III, a PhD organic chemist and "58-year-old amateur astronomer," has been awarded a U.S. patent for piggybacking NEO telescopes on geostationary communication satellites. It says Hoffman has no backing or funding, and the article reports that "Several satellite operators . . . couldn't find anyone to comment on Hoffman's plan" for the author(s), but the piece does present comments from some authorities in the planetary defense field.

Hermes by radar:  Today's Daily Orbit Update MPEC carries radar observations of 69230 Hermes from Goldstone in southern California, once on November 4th, when it was at its closest (about 18.6 lunar distances), and twice on the 8th.

DSN upgrades
JPL has posted a news release dated November 5th, "Deep Space Network Gears Up for Interplanetary Boom," telling how the NASA Deep Space Network (DSN) "has completed a number of upgrades to help support the fleet of more than two dozen spacecraft touring the solar system," and reporting that the new 34m Madrid antenna began operations November 1st. Antennas at the three DSN complexes (Goldstone, Canberra, and Madrid) have been modified "to 'listen' to more than one spacecraft at a time." And, as A/CC reported November 1st, Australia's Parkes Radio Telescope has been upgraded to provide assistance to the DSN with "backup support for a large number of critical mission events" and to help provide coverage for lower priority missions during time conflicts.

Summary Risk Table - sources checked at 2354 UTC, 11 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
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 11 Nov.

Today's Daily Orbit Update MPEC contains no new data for the two objects listed at right, but the Minor Planet Center's Last Observation page is showing that 2003 UX34 was caught yesterday by the 2.5m Isaac Newton Telescope on La Palma in the Canary Islands.

According to the European Spaceguard Central Node Priority List, 2003 UO12 will go out of view for most observers this Friday. At last check, JPL hadn't yet posted a risk assessment for UO12 that incorporates La Palma's observations from last Friday night.
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