|Tuesday||2 December 2003||6:14pm MST||2003-12-03 UTC 0114|
Stardust: We are one month away from Stardust's January 2nd high-speed flyby of comet 81P/Wild 2 [link|alt], and JPL issued a news release late yesterday, "NASA Spacecraft Pinpoints Where the Wild Thing is." It reports that the comet was "detected on November 13 by the spacecraft’s optical navigation camera on the very first attempt" (image), which was noticed when downloaded the next day. "We were not expecting to observe the comet for at least another two weeks." The observation was quickly repeated, and the data will be used for Stardust's first "approach trajectory correction maneuver," planned for tomorrow, aiming for a flyby distance of "300 kilometers, give or take about 16 kilometers."
Comet news: Thanks to A/CC readers who forwarded the link to Nakano Note 995 which today correllated P/2001 RG100 (LINEAR) with C/1979 O1 (Kowal). Known at the time by old-style designation 1979h, it was discovered on 24 July 1979 and also observed on the 25th and 27th by Charles Kowal, and was announced in IAUC 3395 of August 27th. IAUC 3397 two days later clarified that it had been discovered with the Mt. Palomar 1.2m Schmidt telescope. That circular and IAUC 3404 provided ephemerides based on a parabolic and elliptical orbit solutions, but no further observations were reported. 2003 RG100 was only redesignated as a comet on November 28 (see an A/CC report).
Update MPECs were issued today for eight comets in recent view, followed by MPEC 2003-X17 announcing that LINEAR discovery 2003 UY275 has been found to be an active comet. It is long-past a distant 3.729-AU perihelion last July 2nd.
Today's Daily Orbit Update MPEC (DOU) has observations of 2003 WY153 from LINEAR from yesterday morning and today NEODyS removed this object from its Risk page, while JPL very slightly lowered its low risk assessement with just one impact solution. Today the European Spaceguard Central Node posted an observing campaign for this object, saying that "observations are needed as soon as possible" before the bright Moon to help "relatively large" telescopes find it during "the next dark run."
The DOU carries observations of 2003 WT153 from Linz Observatory from last night in Austria. Today JPL added impact solutions and slightly increased its overall low risk assessment for this small object. NEODyS also increased its count of impact solutions for 2003 WT153, but lowered its overall risk assessment.
Not in the DOU are the two other objects currently in view that have impact solutions.
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