Saturday17 January 20045:54pm MST2004-01-18 UTC 0054 back top next  

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

Today's issue status: done

Today's cover shows 2003's only amateur discovered comet, C/2003 T3 (Tabur), with galaxy NGC 6848 in the upper right background. This is a stack of 15 frames, each of 60 seconds exposure, from 18 October 2003 by David Higgins of Ngunnawal (aka Hunters Hill) Observatory near Canberra, Australia. For more about this comet, see his C/2003 T3 page and Vello Tabur's discovery account. North is up in this image, which is ©Copyright 2003 E14 Hunters Hill Observatory.

News briefs – part 1/1 Major News for 17 Jan. 2004 back top next  
News briefs

Stardust:  The Stardust status report dated yesterday tells of daily communication with the spacecraft during the past week, return to cruise configuration, and completion of calibrating the Dust Flux Measurement Instrument and navigation camera.

Images taken through the periscope showed significant degradation from the dust hits during flyby as expected. The periscope performed its function of protecting the mirror and primary camera optics as images not taken through the periscope continue to be good. 

Science@NASA has a report from yesterday, "Stardust Surprise," about the unreleased full-resolution photos. It quotes principal investigator David Brownlee as saying, "There are barn-sized boulders, 100-meter high cliffs, and some weird terrain unlike anything we've ever seen before. There are also some circular features that look like impact craters as large as 1 km across."

Rosetta:  Spaceflight Now has a January 15th report, "Comet orbiter and lander set for rescheduled voyage," about ESA's Rosetta mission.

NASA funding:  Hubble Space Telescope (HST) team members were told yesterday (read an inside account) that the next Space Shuttle service mission (SM4) to upgrade HST instruments and replace batteries and failing gyroscopes has been cancelled. The Shuttle program itself now ends in 2010, the year Hubble is to have a rocket pack attached for de-orbiting. See stories by AFP on SpaceDaily and Reuters,'s first and second articles, and BBC's report.

Two Shuttles were required for SM4, with the second on emergency standby. So cancelling this mission frees up about a billion dollars. Previous service missions reportedly cost around $450 million for a single Shuttle flight, and other SM4 costs were projected at more than $400 million, part of which is already spent. Some reports, however, have NASA officials denying any cost savings or relationship with NASA's new Moon/Mars focus.

Known for its stellar work, the HST also has done much minor object science, such as studying binary Main Belt and Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt objects.

Risk monitoring - part 1/1 Major News for 17 Jan. 2004 back top next  
Risk monitoring 17 Jan.

Today's Daily Orbit Update MPEC reports observation of 2003 YG118 yesterday morning with the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (VATT) and Tenagra II Observatory, both in Arizona, and early this morning by Great Shefford Observatory in England. Today JPL very slightly increased its YG118 risk assessment for a single impact solution beyond the NEODyS 2080 time horizon.

Summary Risk Table - sources checked at 0027 UTC, 18 Jan




 2003 YG118JPL 1/172087-20871-3.29-3.29030.720
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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