|Tuesday||23 December 2003||4:44pm MST||2003-12-23 UTC 2344|
Stardust: The Rocky Mountain News has an article today, "On comet! Vehicle blitzin' toward meeting," previewing the Stardust spacecraft's January 2nd comet flyby. And Aviation Week & Space Technology has an article from December 21st, "Stardust Readied for Comet Intercept," giving the flyby time line, starting with a trajectory correction maneuver today.
New-found: The Minor Planet Center (MPC) from Saturday through this morning announced nine objects. LINEAR has seven sub-kilometer NEOs discovered during 18-21 December, and the Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) has a kilometer-size NEO found on the 21st and an oddball first spotted on November 29th. The latter, 2003 WN188, was followed until yesterday morning by eleven observatories and then announced in MPEC 2003-Y43. It travels an eccentric (e=0.8484) path further from the Sun than Mars and closer than Neptune, and is roughly estimated at 4.74 km. (2.94 miles) wide.
One each of the LINEAR and CSS discoveries — 2003 YD45 and 2003 YE45 — were posted with impact solutions today (see below)
Faulkes-North first light: The Maui News has an article from yesterday, "First Faulkes telescope image taken" (on the 20th), telling about the 2m northern member of the Faulkes Telescope Project (FTP). The initial results could help spur the Maui County Council to get to work on the local light pollution problem affecting Haleakala. See A/CC's earlier report for more about the FTP and other educational robot telescopes.
Plastic mirrors: The Albuquerque Tribune has an article from yesterday, "Just around the bend: a space mirror that folds," telling about a U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory project at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, N.M. See also AFRL news releases of August 8th and 18th, which show a one-meter polyimide mirror that is one-twentieth the thickness of a piece of paper. The next goal is a ten-meter mirror. To compensate for problems with vibration and shape holding, the article tells about "a high-tech optical filter made of liquid crystal — like that of a laptop computer screen — and electric current [to] speed up or slow down the light so it all gets to the viewing screen of the telescope at the same time."
The Tuesday Daily Orbit Update MPEC (DOU) has observations of 2003 XM from Sormano Observatory last night, and today JPL removed its last impact solution for this half-kilometer object.
Just after midnight UT this morning, the Minor Planet Center (MPC) issued MPEC 2003-Y47 announcing 2003 YD45 as having been discovered by LINEAR Saturday morning and followed up yesterday morning by LINEAR and Desert Eagle Observatory. JPL posted YD45 yesterday evening local time, and NEODyS posted it this morning. JPL puts this object's size on the order of 343
No new 2003 YT1 observations were reported in today's DOU, and a big correction has been made to A/CC's report for yesterday. At last check today (11:30pm PST), JPL had not updated its YT1 risk assessment based on the latest data, reported in yesterday's DOU from early Sunday.
Update: NEODyS has posted 2003 YE45, which was announced early today in MPEC 2003-Y48 as a kilometer-size object discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) Sunday morning and confirmed early yesterday by Great Shefford, Fitz-Randolph, and Sabino Canyon observatories and LINEAR.
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