Tuesday9 March 20041:22pm MST2004-03-09 UTC 2022 back top next  
Apollo PHA 1999 DJ4 from
Begues Obs. 8 March 2004

The Asteroid/Comet Connection's
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  • News briefs – Spitzer to size planetoids & short warning times

Cover: Last night Pepe Manteca at Begues Observatory in Spain caught 1999 DJ4 as it traversed galaxy NGC 4499. The larger image has frames stacked on the deep sky to bring out galaxy detail, so the asteroid appears as a streak, along which you see it travel in the overlapped animation. This PHO is scheduled for Arecibo radar observation during 14-18 April. NEODyS puts DJ4's absolute magnitude at H=18.348, which converts to roughly 725 meters/yards wide, and notes that it will pass Earth at about 22.9 lunar distances on April 20th.

News briefs – part 1/1 Major News for 9 March 2004 back top next  
News briefs

Spitzer to size planetoids:  The Spitzer Science Center has posted Director's Discretionary Time approved programs including planetary science infrared observations such as a proposal "to determine the size of objects beyond the orbit of Pluto" from Mike Brown, co-discoverer of the two largest known — 2004 DW (Index) and 50000 Quaoar [link|alt].

Support for comet missions Rosetta and Deep Impact was approved. Philippe Lamy's proposal is to observe 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko [link|alt] over a 12.5-hour period "to cover the full light curve of the nucleus and derive both its size and shape," and to help constrain albedo and rotational state to better understand the comet's surface. Michael A'Hearn's proposal for 9P/Tempel 1 [link|alt] notes that, ahead of next year's rendezvous, the only "Spitzer viewing widow" ends this April 29th, after which the comet is expected to become active.

Yan Fernandez is on the list with a "Physical Evolution of Comets and Cometary Dust" proposal

to observe "comets from various dynamical classes." Also Sumita Jayaraman with "Exploration of the Earth's Resonant Ring," and Tom Soifer with the previously announced First Look Survey to characterize the Main Belt population down to sub-kilometer diameters.

Short warning times:  National Geographic posted yesterday what would have been just another rehash of the 2004 AS1 almost-alarm story (see A/CC Major News Index) except for this new detail:

Several astronomers complained they did not know whom to call in an emergency. Last Tuesday, Lindley Johnson, a program scientist at NASA's Near-Earth Object Observation Program in Washington, D.C., sent a memo to a select group of asteroid experts. Should a potential impactor be detected, Johnson wrote, "You call me." 

It was explained to the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) mailing list last May 18th that Johnson, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel with NEO credentials, had been assigned to two posts at NASA headquarters, as Program Scientist for Near Earth Object Observations (NEOO) and for Planetary Astronomy (PAST).

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