Tuesday20 January 20043:42pm MST2004-01-20 UTC 2242 back top next  

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

Today's issue status: done, updated

Cover image: Rafael Ferrando's picture shows D/1999 S4 (LINEAR) on the evening of 21 July 2000, just over four days from its closest approach to the Sun. This image was created from ten 30-second exposures stacked on the comet nucleus, which is moving so fast across the sky that background stars appear as strings of ten beads. North is up and east is left.

FMO Project discovery – part 1/1 Major News for 20 Jan. 2004 back top next  
FMO Project discovery

2004 BV18 found by Spacewatch online volunteer

Spacewatch at the University of Arizona today posted to its News page a news release about 2004 BV18, which was announced this morning in MPEC 2004-B23 as discovered with the Spacewatch 0.9m telescope early yesterday by "Observers M. Block, S. A. Megan." This is the first object to receive a Minor Planet Center designation that was found by a volunteer online observer in Spacewatch's new FMO Project.

[The] challenge in detecting Fast-Moving Object (FMO) trails is that they are often dim and can have any length and any directional orientation on the image. Those characteristics make it difficult to program software to detect them. Some of the dim (faint) ones are noticeable by eye, but not software. . .  Because the candidate objects are moving fast, they have to be followed up with confirming observations ASAP. . .  Spacewatch observers make an effort to view every part of every scan in realtime at the telescope, [but] the burden of spotting FMOs by visual inspection of images is now too great for one observer. . .  [So we] developed the web site for the volunteer program FMO Project. 
2004 BV18 Spacewatch discovery image
(c)Copyright 2004 Arizona Board of Regents
2004 BV18 19 Jan. discovery image courtesy of Spacewatch, © Copyright 2004 Arizona Board of Regents.

Stu Megan, who discovered 2004 BV18 while "examining on-line Spacewatch imaging data [from] observations made by Miwa Block," is one of "30 trained volunteers [who] are now actively examining Spacewatch imagery . . . to help discover asteroids that are moving so fast that they leave streaks on two-minute time-exposed images."

From its brightness (H=26.1), 2004 BV18's size translates by standard formula to be in the range of 16 to 36 meters/yards wide, with about 20 as a best guess. The JPL Close Approaches page reports that it will pass Earth at 5.1 lunar distances on January 22nd.

Update:  The Spacewatch-written news release quoted here has been replaced with a link to the University of Arizona's January 21st news release (A/CC report). See also A/CC's October 18th report about the FMO Project inauguration.

News briefs – part 1/1 Major News for 20 Jan. 2004 back top next  
News briefs

Rosetta:  BBC has an article today, "Comet mission in rocket concern," telling that scientists "are worried that technical issues related to Rosetta's new launch vehicle, raised in reviews of its flight readiness, may delay the mission yet again." It quotes Andre Balogh, who has an instrument onboard, as saying "If Rosetta misses this launch window, for whatever reason, it will be very difficult to find another target comet for it using Ariane." But it also reports that ESA’s Director of Science, David Southwood, expects everything to go ahead as planned, since the launcher issues are "not a particular cause for concern."

Rosetta is scheduled for launch February 26th.

Stardust:  The New York Times has an article today [temporary link?], "Using the Right Bait to Catch a Comet," telling about Stardust deputy principal investigator Peter Tsou, and about the aerogel material he developed that was used by the mission for collecting dust particles and is also used for insulating Mars rover electronics.

Update: This article was also published by the International Herald Tribune on January 22nd.

Risk monitoring - part 1/1 Major News for 20 Jan. 2004 back top next  
Risk monitoring 20 Jan.

Tuesday's Daily Orbit Update MPEC carries new observations of 2004 BY1 from Powell Observatory in Kansas this morning, and today JPL removed this object from its Current Impact Risks page. No other objects with impact solutions and currently in view are reported. (2004 BY1 was the subject of yesterday's cover image.)

Summary Risk Table - sources checked at 0001 UTC, 21 Jan




 2004 BY1JPL 1/20R E M O V E D
 2004 BW1 NEODyS 1/192010-20646-5.83-6.2501.885
 2004 BV1 NEODyS 1/192015-207511-4.07-4.5903.063
JPL 1/192015-2103105-3.39-4.0303.063
 2004 BJ11 NEODyS 1/192020-20689-6.61-7.0701.035
JPL 1/192017-210387-5.72-6.6401.035
 2004 BE11 NEODyS 1/192031-20582-6.31-6.4001.085
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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