Thursday15 January 20046:33pm MST2004-01-16 UTC 0133 back top next  

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


Today's issue status: done
yesterdayJanuarytomorrowIndex

Cover image: Comet C/1996 B2 (Hyakutake) is seen in what Pepe Manteca calls his "first good image," from 23 March 1996 with Albert Sanchez at Pla de la Calma in a 12-minute exposure with a Meade LX200 telescope and Kodak Tmax ASA 3200 film.

NASA funding – part 1/1 Major News for 15 Jan. 2004 back top next  
NASA funding

President Bush yesterday told NASA (transcript) to repurpose $11 billion from its five-year $86 billion budget, taking it from programs not associated with putting humans on the Moon and Mars. One quiet defensive response was a University of Maryland note to editors and writers that its experts are available "For interviews on space exploration issues such as solar system science, space exploration and the human spirit, robotic vs. human exploration, and protecting Earth from comets and asteroids." At the top of the list is Michael A'Hearn, principal investigator for the Deep Impact comet mission.

The Washington Post reports that, "There will be no further servicing missions to the Hubble Space Telescope," and, although there are no specifics yet, there "is rampant speculation about closing NASA facilities and axing programs." But, as the Baltimore Sun notes today, such budget changes can only come with the approval of Congress:

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland ... the senior Democrat on the panel that funds NASA [said last week] "a manned mission to the moon must not come at the expense of NASA's other scientific endeavors or domestic priorities." Some lawmakers, however, say it is about time to reconsider NASA's programs and set some of them aside. 

The Republican head of the House space committee is reported by the Sun as saying that science programs are "obvious" places for making cuts, citing specifically global warming research.

Democratic Representative Bart Gordon of Tennessee issued a statement yesterday that he was pleased that the President had "laid out a more specific plan for the nation's human space-flight program," but "I am particularly concerned that NASA's other missions not be cannibalized in an attempt to cover the costs of these proposals."

Beyond concern over possible cuts in already funded U.S. minor object science, there is also the question of how likely this refocused NASA will be to extend such research and begin new work.

News briefs – part 1/1 Major News for 15 Jan. 2004 back top next  
News briefs

New-found:  The new year is off to a slow start with discovering near-Earth asteroids (NEAs). In the first 14 days, ten NEAs were announced, including one discovered December 28th. Half of these were categorized as potentially hazardous, and one, 2004 AF, was briefly listed with impact solutions. 2004 AF was also the largest, at about roughly 1.7 km. (1.1 miles). The smallest was 2004 AD, roughly estimated at 50 meters/yards wide from its brightness, but perhaps 15 meters from its weak radar signature (see January 11th). Three were discovered by LONEOS in Arizona, including the two smallest. The others were found by LINEAR in New Mexico, including the largest and the 2003 discovery.

Site news:Images wanted

A/CC is looking for "cover-quality" images that are 1) topical and newsworthy, such as Peter Birtwhistle's images of 2003 YG118 on the January 12th "cover," or are 2) interesting or pretty, whether new or old. This includes comet images such as today's cover, and images of asteroids with interesting incidental objects such galaxies, nebulae, meteors, satellites, striking asterisms, or other minor objects.

Participation has been primarily from amateur NEO observers, but this opportunity is also open to astrophotographers, professional astronomers, and students, as well as meteor photographers and meteorite finders. Beyond still images, other cover possibilities that will be considered include animations, illustrations, visualizations (e.g., asteroid exploration or mining), and even fantasy art related to minor objects. And we'd like to help encourage innovation in minor object imagery and illustration aimed at making minor object science more interesting and understandable to the public.

Risk monitoring - part 1/1 Major News for 15 Jan. 2004 back top next  
Risk monitoring 15 Jan.

There is nothing new to report today.

Summary Risk Table - sources checked at 2004 UTC, 15 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.
http://www.HohmannTransfer.com/mn/0401/15.htm
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