Saturday24 January 20043:22pm MST2004-01-24 UTC 2222 back top next  

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

Today's issue status: done
  • News briefs – New Horizons news
    Cover story – details about today's "cover"
    part 2 – fireball updates, Hubble news & spacecraft computers
  • Risk monitoring – JPL has posted 2004 BN41 & NEODyS has posted 2004 BG41

Cover image: Robert Hutsebaut yesterday morning was first to confirm NEO 2004 BH41, which had been posted to the NEO Confirmation Page after discovery by LINEAR in New Mexico the previous morning. See "Cover story" below for more about this image.

News briefs – part 1/2 Major News for 24 Jan. 2004 back top next  
New Horizons spacecraft with
Ralph camera/spectrometer (arrow)
Image courtesy of JHU/APL
News briefs

New Horizons news:
The New Horizons mission has posted information dated January 22nd about its multi-purpose camera/spectrometer (closeup). It is named Ralph, "simply because it's coupled with an ultraviolet spectrometer called Alice," a reference to Ralph and Alice Cramden on the early TV sitcom, "The Honeymooners." This instrument combines a single telescope with an infrared compositional mapping spectrometer (LEISA) and the Multispectral Visible Imaging Component (MVIC) with three black-and-white and four color CCDs.

Pluto is so far from the Sun that Ralph must [work] at light levels 1,000 times fainter than daylight at Earth, or 300 times fainter than the conditions Mars probes face. . .  Ultimately MVIC will map global geology and landforms with a typical resolution of about 1 kilometer per pixel. . .  It will also aid the search for clouds and hazes in Pluto's atmosphere, and rings and additional satellites around Pluto and other Kuiper Belt objects. . .  LEISA will map the amounts of water, methane, carbon dioxide, nitrogen ice and other materials across the sunlit surfaces of Pluto and Charon (and later Kuiper Belt objects). 

more News briefs >>

Cover story

Today's "cover" image above comes from Robert Hutsebaut's participation yesterday morning in confirming NEO 2004 BH41. He tells A/CC that this success came "despite bad transparency above New Mexico last night," with thin clouds and the object "in the range of 19-20 magnitude." The image is from the second position he reported, a stack of 12 frames centered on the faint object, thus background stars appear as streaks.

This work was done from Hutsebaut's living room in Belgium using a 0.3m Rent-a-scope telescope at New Mexico Skies Observatory. And he would like to thank Peter Birtwhistle for explaining just the day before how to decide the best exposure for catching such a faint object.

From its brightness, 2004 BH41 is roughly estimated at just under a half-kilometer (0.31 mile) in diameter.

News briefs – part 2/2 Major News for 24 Jan. 2004 back top next  

<< continued from part 1

Fireball updates:  The Guardian of England tells today that journalist Abel Tarilonte, who found two small meteorite fragments that may be associated with Spain's January 4th fireball, "cannot find a museum or university science department in Spain prepared to give them a home where they can be properly examined, El Mundo reported yesterday."

"No one from any public body has shown the least interest in the find or in its scientific implications. This is despite the fact that these are the only meteor remains to have been found in Spain for six decades," he complained. 

For more about the January 4th event, follow A/CC's news thread or see the Major News Index.

In a news wrap today, the Rocky Mountain News says that the January 11th fireball "broke apart about 44 miles above Aurora," Colorado, and advises residents on what to look for if pieces landed in "your back yard": "Rocks with a fresh black crust. They could range in size from a plum to a softball. Signs of newly disturbed dirt, possibly resembling a gopher burrow."

Hubble news:  The Baltimore Sun posted an AP wire story yesterday, "Mikulski to meet with Hubble scientists." It quotes White House press secretary Scott McClellan, when "asked to explain why the Hubble is being scrapped," as referring the matter to NASA but noting that "The president wants to make sure that we're focusing our resources on [clearly-defined] missions and programs that produce meaningful results." Today posted the White House transcript of this exchange, in which "scuttling Hubble" appears to be a matter of reallocating NASA funding.

Spacecraft computers:  The Associated Press has a story appearing on many news sites, such at at the North County Times of southern California yesterday, telling about the Mars rover operating system (Wind River's VxWorks) and computer (BAE Systems' single-board 25MHz PowerPC RAD6000 with 128Mb RAM), which are "space qualified" and the computer is radiation hardened. It says that the RAD6000 is "on 77 satellites in space," including Stardust.

Risk monitoring - part 1/1 Major News for 24 Jan. 2004 back top next  
Risk monitoring 24 Jan.

Today JPL posted 2004 BN41 with one low-rated solution. It was announced in today's MPEC 2004-B39 as discovered yesterday morning by LINEAR in New Mexico and confirmed this morning by KLENOT in the Czech Republic and Table Mountain Observatory in southern California.

NEODyS has joined JPL in posting 2004 BG41 (see yesterday). No new observations were reported for this low-rated object in the Saturday Daily Orbit Update MPEC (DOU).

Today's DOU has a set of positions reported for 2004 BV1 from KLENOT from last night, and today both risk monitors lowered their overall risk assessment for this object, and JPL cut its solution count from 42 to 14.

Summary Risk Table - sources checked at 2220 UTC, 24 Jan




 2004 BV1 NEODyS 1/242031-20784-6.56-6.6607.716
JPL 1/242078-209914-4.03-4.4707.716
 2004 BN41JPL 1/242098-20981-6.64-6.6401.049
 2004 BG41 NEODyS 1/242049-20491-6.52-6.5201.574
JPL 1/242049-20491-5.63-5.6301.574
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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