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Monday1 December 20039:29pm MST2003-12-02 UTC 0429
Today's news about Asteroids, Comets & Meteors
Page status: done
Late news:  JPL announced today that the Stardust spacecraft has sighted comet 81P/Wild 2 unexpectedly early.
2003 WT42 observed by OAM 24 Nov. 2003 Unusual object 2003 WT42 from Observatorio Astronomico de Mallorca (OAM) from 24 Nov. 2003.
2003 WT42

At right is 2003 WT42 in what may be the first image posted anywhere of one of the most interesting newly-discovered objects in our Solar System. Thanks to the Observatorio Astronomico de Mallorca (OAM) for this animation from the night of November 24th. To obtain three good astrometric positions for this slow moving and faint object, 18 (40-second) frames were assembled into three stacks by Reiner Stoss, who notes that "The object looks asteroidal on our images. No cometary appearance is visible." This animation is cropped from screen shots of the results at 200% in Astrometrica.

Because of its unusual orbit, observers will be watching 2003 WT42's multi-year journey through the inner Solar System for cometary activity. And there will be plenty of time to look closely for that, since perihelion won't come until around mid-2005.

2003 WT42 animation
by Pasquale Tricarico using ORSA 2003 WT42's inner Solar System jaunt by Pasquale Tricarico using ORSA. Based on early observation and calculation, it climbed through the ecliptic plane in 2001-02 and will dive back through again near Saturn's orbit in 2009.

Pasquale Tricarico, whose work and software was introduced to our pages yesterday, tells A/CC that, although 2003 WT42 will not encounter Saturn on this pass, preliminary calculation shows a minimum orbit intersection distance (MOID) of "about 0.273 AU." It will be interesting to hear what dynamicists can learn about that as continuing observation helps improve the orbit calculation.


News briefs

Readings: has an article today, "The Solar System that Neptune Built." See A/CC's EKB news report for more links.

The School of Physics and Astronomy at Cardiff University in Wales has announced that it "will host the Operations Centre of the Faulkes Telescopes Project" (FTP). A university news release of November 26th (also at EurekAlert on the 28th) reports that FTP with two 2m robot telescopes will be ready for "some 750 schools by the start of the next academic year" (more info and links).

PHO recovery:  MPEC 2003-X04 today announces the recovery of 2000 CH59 with the Spacewatch 1.8m telescope from observations Saturday and this morning (5:46am local). This half-kilometer size object was discovered by LINEAR on 6 February 2000 and was last seen April 29th that year. Not flagged as a PHA in today's MPEC, Francesco Manca tells A/CC that Sormano Observatory's newly calculated CH59/Earth MOID does meet the hazardous definition.

2000 CH59, by the way, is on the proposed Hera mission's list of NEAs Dynamically Favorable for visiting.

New-found:  An NEO first noticed by LINEAR early last Wednesday has turned out to be yet another kilometer-size object. Following more LINEAR observation during the weekend, it was announced overnight in MPEC 2003-X01 with the designation 2003 WX153. From its brightness, it is roughly estimated at 1.37 km. (0.848 mile) wide.

Small objects:  Yesterday and today's MPECs report observations for half of the dozen smallest objects currently in view. 2003 WP7 was observed by Jornada Observatory yesterday morning, 2003 WP25 Saturday morning by the Spacewatch 1.8m telescope, and 2003 WH98 by Tenagra II Observatory Saturday and Sunday morning. For small objects with impact solutions and currently in view (2003 WW26, 2003 WT153, and 2003 WY153), see yesterday and today's "Risk monitoring" reports, and yesterday's special "2003 WT153" report.


Risk monitoring 1 Dec.

Today NEODyS posted 2003 WY153 to its Risk page with one very, very low-rated impact solution. No observations are reported in today's Daily Orbit Update MPEC (DOU) for this small object, which was announced late yesterday UT.

Tiny 2003 WT153 has many positions reported from Tenagra II and Desert Moon observatories yesterday morning, and Linz Observatory last night. Today NEODyS and JPL eliminated almost half of their WT153 impact solutions but split on slightly raising or lowering their low overall risk assessments.

The DOU has an observation triplet for 2003 WW26 from the Spacewatch 0.9m telescope from early yesterday spanning an hour and 19 minutes. Today both risk monitors very slightly lowered their overall low risk assessments for this object, with JPL now down to three solutions in 2061 and NEODyS adding a solution for a total of four in 2061 and one in 2072 (the 2061 solutions are all for November 14th).

Summary Risk Table - sources checked at 2030 UTC, 1 Dec




 2003 WY153 NEODyS 12/12075-20751-9.98-9.9801.099
JPL 12/12071-20711-7.52-7.5201.099
 2003 WW26 NEODyS 12/12061-20725-3.91-4.1708.925
JPL 12/12061-20613-3.90-4.1508.925
 2003 WT153 NEODyS 12/12048-207715-6.85-6.9701.488
JPL 12/12048-210324-7.16-7.5701.488
 2003 WGNEODyS 11/29R E M O V E D
JPL 11/292055-20551-5.95-5.95010.779
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 remaining object with impact solutions and under recent observation, 2003 WG, doesn't have new observations reported.


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