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yesterday November tomorrow
Tuesday25 November 20031:59pm MST2003-11-25 UTC 2059
Today's news about Asteroids, Comets & Meteors
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Deep Impact flyby spacecraft The Deep Impact flyby spacecraft being worked on at Ball Aerospace, image courtesy of Deep Impact mission.
Deep Impact news has a big report today, "Deep Impact: Probing A Comet's Inner Secrets," telling about how the Deep Impact mission is proceeding, and the many unknowns that are being faced. And the mission site has updated with several new items, including the photo at left, an interview (aimed at youngsters) with the Deep Impact Flight System Manager at Ball Aerospace, Harold Montoya, an item by Lucy McFadden about star navigation and camera calibration, and the November 2003 Mission Update from Principal Investigator, Mike A'Hearn. He reports that. . .

More problems are now being solved than are being discovered in the testing [of] the spacecraft computer, including both hardware and software issues. This has been the most problematic system in the spacecraft. 
He also tells about completing for the first time a full run-through of the simulated encounter sequence, and about concerns with the spacecraft gyros. For more info, see an A/CC report from earlier this month.

News briefs

Canadian event:  CBC News reported yesterday that "People across Prince Edward Island reported seeing a bright light or lights shooting across the sky Saturday night." One eyewitness report put it at "around 7:30 p.m.," streaking "across the western sky" as seen from Stanhope, P.E.I.

MPC/CBAT circulars:  Today the Minor Planet Center issued update MPECs for a dozen recently discovered comets, from C/2003 R1 (LINEAR) through C/2003 W1 (LINEAR). And the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams has now made public IAUC 8232 of October 26th with the discovery circumstances for Main Belt asteroid satellite S/2003 (22899) 1, found with the Hubble Space Telescope on July 26th, and IAUC 8233 of October 27th with optical lightcurve observation and interpretation for binary PHO 69230 Hermes (1937 UB).

Tracking small objects:  Asteroids that are tiny[fn] but come close enough to be noticed are dim and only briefly visible, and most have potentially threatening orbits, even if the objects aren't big enough to be officially categorized as "potentially hazardous." It's a population that needs to be better understood through the help of observations such as in today's Daily Orbit Update MPEC (DOU). From early yesterday are positions for 2003 WE from LINEAR, 2003 WP7 from LINEAR and Tenagra II Observatory, and 2003 WU21 from LINEAR and (last night) Great Shefford Observatory, plus observations from the 21st from Spacewatch's 0.9m telescope. 2003 WQ21 hasn't been reported seen since it was announced on November 21st, and 2003 WP25 also isn't in today's DOU, but 2003 WW26 was very well observed yesterday, as told below with a picture.

Footnote: Absolute magnitude H>22.0, or roughly less than 105-140 meters/yards wide.

Risk monitoring 25 Nov.
2003 WW26 imaged
24 Nov. 2003 by Begues Obs. 2003 WW26 imaged last night by Pete Manteca at Begues Observatory.

The Tuesday Daily Orbit Update MPEC (DOU) reports observations of 2003 WW26 from LINEAR in New Mexico yesterday morning, and from last night in Spain from Begues and Consell observatories. The Begues observations (see at left) spanned 21 minutes and LINEAR's more than two hours. Today JPL and NEODyS removed some impact solutions, and JPL added one beyond 2080, while slightly raising their low overall risk ratings for 2003 WW26.

Summary Risk Table - sources checked at 2058 UTC, 25 Nov




 2003 WW26 NEODyS 11/252061-20803-4.55-4.6003.681
JPL 11/252061-20988-4.19-4.6103.681
 2003 WG NEODyS 11/252055-20551-2.50-2.5006.721
JPL 11/252055-20551-2.51-2.5106.721
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.

The DOU carries observations of 2003 WG from last night also from Begues and Consell. Today both risk monitors slightly raised their risk ratings for a single impact solution in the year 2055.
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