Wednesday24 March 20044:59pm MST2004-03-24 UTC 2359 back top next  

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


Today's issue status: done
yesterdayMarchtomorrowIndex
photo by Rob Matson

Cover: Superior Valley 020 seen where found by Rob Matson on 5 January 2003 and (inset) up close. He reports that, "It was recently classified as an L6 ordinary chondrite. To date, this is my largest California meteorite find — 307.8 grams. A good two-thirds of this meteorite was buried, which was a nice surprise." Besides looking for asteroid pieces, Rob Matson is active in archive searches (see Index) and SOHO comet hunting.

News briefs – panel 1/2 Major News for 24 March 2004 back top next  
News briefs

Micrometeorites:  A Narragansett, Rhode Island Times article today, "President Bush honors SK science teacher," tells about a high school classroom project where "Last year the class put the tarp out during the Leonid Meteor Shower, with hopes of snagging some micrometeorites. They gathered the material with strips of forensic tape, used a solution to get the material off, and then scrutinized it under a microscope." See A/CC's report from October 2002 for more about this science education project.

Story morphing:  Space.com posted an article Monday telling that the top NASA official for NEO science has an unoffical plan for notifying (only) his NASA superiors in case of possible imminent impact, and that this plan "could be put out for review this summer and finalized by the end of the year." BBC reported something similar yesterday, "Nasa considers impact alert plan." And UPI has somehow turned this into a wire story at the Washington Times today

telling readers that, "NASA clarified its procedure Tuesday for informing the president if the Earth is in danger of being hit by a newly discovered asteroid, the BBC reported."

Rosetta status:  The Rosetta comet mission issued its fourth status report today, "Spacecraft Commissioning Continues." It tells that there were "two major areas of commissioning activity" for the week of 12-19 March, first with the lander, which went well, and then for "various plasma detection packages on the orbiter" (the Rosetta Plasma Consortium — RPC). This process is reported to have been successful with the main system but was suspended upon encountering what appears to have been "a failure in the redundant power supply" while checking out the RPC backup system.

On the 19th, the Rosetta spacecraft was a little more than 14 lunar distances from Earth.

more news briefs >>

News briefs – panel 2/2 Major News for 24 March 2004 back top next  

<< continued from panel 1

Namings:  Janet Akyuz Mattei, for whom Main Belt asteroid 11695 Mattei is named and the long-time director of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO), passed away Tuesday. See Sky & Telescope yesterday and Astronomy.com today.

The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Post-Gazette has an article today, "Asteroid named to honor astronomer from Shaler," about the naming of Main Belt asteroid 10320 Reiland (1990 TR1) for prominent local amateur astronomer Tom Reiland.

Dark skies:  The Houston, Texas Chronicle reports today, "Law to free the night sky of glare sees light of day" (meaning it passed and has become law) in Fort Bend County near George Observatory.

Readings:  Sky & Telescope has a report today, "Asteroid 2004 FH's Record Flyby." BBC has an article from Monday about imagery of 81P/Wild 2. Jim Oberg has a piece at MSNBC from Monday giving his opinion that NASA has made the right decision to not send the Shuttle for a servicing mission.

SOHO news:  It was announced March 22nd on the SOHO comet discovery chat page that Sebastian Hoenig has been credited with the mission's 750th comet, a discovery he had reported that day.

Space.com has an article today, "The Next Great Sun-Watching Spacecraft," about SOHO's successor, the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which is planned to launch four years from now. It will have considerably higher image resolution, but nothing is mentioned about SDO's suitability for studying sungrazing comets or searching for asteroids inside Earth's orbit.

Prairie event:  The Grand Rapids, Minnesota Herald-Review reports today that Sunday night, "Eight calls were received by the Itasca County Sheriff’s Department starting at 7:40 p.m. in reference to seeing an object . . . flying low to the ground with sparks and fire trailing from it." That may be a far southeastern report of the Sunday evening fireball observed across three Canadian provinces (see A/CC news thread), or a nearly simultaneous nearby event.

Risk monitoring - panel 1/1 Major News for 24 March 2004 back top next  
Risk monitoring 24 March

The Wednesday Daily Orbit Update MPEC has a set of 24 positions for 2004 FH from Auckland Observatory in New Zealand from the 18th, within the existing observing arc of this small Earth-buzzing object. Today JPL updated its 2004 FH risk assessment by slightly raising its very low rating for a single remaining impact solution, in the year 2098.

Summary Risk Table - sources checked at 2358 UTC, 24 Mar

Object

Assessment

Years

VI
PS
cum
PS
max
T
S
Arc 
days
 2004 FU4 NEODyS 3/232057-20775-4.90-5.0603.043
JPL 3/232010-210315-3.07-3.0903.043
 2004 FHJPL 3/242098-20981-7.25-7.2502.771
NEODyS 3/20R 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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