Wednesday14 January 20046:26pm MST2004-01-15 UTC 0126 back top next  

The Asteroid/Comet Connection's
daily news journal about
asteroids, comets, and meteors


Today's issue status: done
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Cover image: This copyrighted composite image, shown here in two strips, is Yan Fernandez's "zoo of fragments" (20 total) imaged during 17-19 July 2002 with the University of Hawaii (UH) 2.2m Telescope after IAUC 7934 of July 13th announced that NEAT had found a fragment (B) of comet 57P/du Toit-Neujmin-Delporte [link|alt] with its Mt. Palomar 1.2m telescope. See the UH news release and A/CC's report for more info, and see breakup images of D/1993 F2 (Shoemaker-Levy 9) and D/1999 S4 (LINEAR).

News briefs – part 1/1 Major News for 14 Jan. 2004 back top next  
News briefs

NASA refocus:  President's Bush's speech today (transcript) about the "refocusing of our space agency" announces what appears will lead to a complete reorganization of NASA to serve two large goals: returning humans to the Moon and preparing to go to Mars. Most of the funding, some $11 billion, will be taken from programs already in the NASA budget. Space.com reported today that "Congressional sources said they were told that much of that reprogramming will affect science programs, particularly those not related to the new exploration efforts." For the moment, one can only speculate about what all this means for NASA's space-based astronomy and minor object science projects.

Statistics:  Alain Maury's new report on Spaceguard NEO statistics says "87.5% of discoveries in the recent years has been by north american programs funded by NASA," and 2003 was the first year in which there were (slightly) fewer NEO discoveries than in the previous year, "caused by the fact that 3 out of the 5 surveys stopped operation during some months of this year to upgrade their systems (NEAT, Spacewatch and Catalina)." However, "there is no clear decrease of discoveries of bright objects."

Fewer discoveries helps explain how it was that only two more Minor Planet Electronic Circulars (MPECs) were issued in 2003 than in 2002. By A/CC's count, 1617 were published last year as compared with 1615 the year before. The years from 2001 through 1999 had MPEC counts of 1304, 1178, and 899.

Alain Maury left French government research employment last year to fund his own observing program through his new astro-tourism business, San Pedro de Atacama Celestial Explorations (SPACE), in Chile's scenic Atacama desert.

Risk monitoring - part 1/1 Major News for 14 Jan. 2004 back top next  
Risk monitoring 14 Jan.

The Wednesday Daily Orbit Update MPEC reports observation of 2003 YG118 this morning by Great Shefford Observatory in England, and today JPL very, very slightly lowered its risk estimate for this object.

When JPL first re-posted YG118, the median size estimate was dropped by 210 meters from the previous 1.670 km., and, with each day's assessment since, JPL has reduced it by another 20-30 meters.

Summary Risk Table - sources checked at 2010 UTC, 14 Jan

Object

Assessment

Years

VI
PS
cum
PS
max
T
S
Arc 
days
 2003 YG118JPL 1/142087-20871-3.07-3.07027.734
NEODyS 12/31R E M O V E D
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.
Note that only objects recently in view are shown here.
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