|Wednesday||24 December 2003||8:41pm MST||2003-12-25 UTC 0341|
Stardust: The Oregonian has an article today, "Cosmic dusting," previewing the Stardust spacecraft's January 2nd flyby of comet 81P/Wild 2 [link|alt]. NASA advised news editors yesterday about Stardust news briefings at 2-3pm EST December 30th and 6-7pm EST January 2nd. These will be webcast, sandwiched amid NASA's coverage of a January 3rd Mars rover landing.
Spotted again: The last object to be rated above zero on the Torino Scale, 2003 QO104 back in September, was in yesterday's Daily Orbit Update MPEC (DOU) as seen early yesterday with the Spacewatch 1.8m telescope. These were the first QO104 observations reported since November 19th (also by Spacewatch), and the first since it had returned to the European Spaceguard Priority List on December 8th as a level 4 "Low priority."
Among objects that were listed with impact solutions last year, 2002 PZ39 [link|alt] was reported in yesterday's DOU, also from the Spacewatch 1.8m telescope, which had previously picked up PZ39 on November 18th — the first this object had been reported since 3 October 2002. And MPEC 2003-Y37 on December 20th reported the recovery of 2002 SM [link|alt], caught by Linz Observatory with observations on the 18th and 20th.
Phobos mission: RIA Novosti has an item from yesterday (temporary link), "Phobos soil samples planned to be brought to Earth in 2007," saying that this project of Rosaviakosmos and Lavochkin "is the closest and so far only Russian project for the study of planets in the Solar system." Phobos, which may be an asteroid captured by Mars, was the destination for two failed Soviet Union missions in the late 1980s (see A/CC links).
JPL today posted 2003 YE45 and 2003 YS70. The first was listed by NEODyS yesterday and has observations reported in the Wednesday Daily Orbit Update MPEC (DOU) from NEAT/Haleakala yesterday. New listings sometimes have large counts of highly preliminary impact solutions, and today's NEODyS count for this kilometer-size object is up, while JPL's first count, going past the NEODyS 2080 time horizon, is higher yet.
2003 YS70 was announced in MPEC 2003-Y57 today as discovered by LINEAR early Monday, and followed-up by LINEAR yesterday morning and by the Observatorio Astronomico de Mallorca (OAM) early today. JPL puts YS70's size at 10 meters/yards wide, and the MPEC's preliminary calculation has it crossing Earth's orbit at an inclination of 0.4°, remaining less than eight lunar distances (LD) from Earth during 17 December to 6 January, and coming to 1.64 LD this next Saturday. The European Spaceguard Central Node Priority List notes that YS70 will go out of view January 1st. Later NEODyS also posted 2003 YS70.
Today's DOU has positions from LINEAR for 2003 YT1 from yesterday morning. The NEODyS risk assessment today removed its one 2011 impact solution and added a solution in 2017 and another in 2078, while further lowering overall risk ratings. JPL's assessment, which for the first time also incorporates all the Monday DOU data, slightly lowers its higher risk ratings for this two-kilometer object while cutting its solution count from 22 to eight, six of them within the NEODyS time horizon.
Late news: JPL has posted 2003 XB22, which was announced late today UT in MPEC 2003-Y63, and also has updated its assessment of 2003 YD45 ahead of tomorrow's DOU.
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