The Asteroid/Comet Connection's
daily news journal about
asteroids, comets, and meteors
Today's issue status: done
|News briefs – part 1/1||Major News for 9 March 2004|
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.
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).