Saturday27 March 20044:56pm MST2004-03-27 UTC 2356 back top next  

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


Today's issue status: done
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Cover: One of last week's many small object discoveries (see report), and one that has been observed this week, too, is 2004 EH1, roughly estimated to be about 135 meters/yards wide. Pepe Manteca in Spain caught it Thursday night and sent this image. It is created from a stack of frames centered on the object's motion, so stars appear as streaks.

News briefs – panel 1/1 Major News for 27 March 2004 back top next  
News briefs

2004 FY15 intrusion:  See yesterday's cover image, animated illustration, and report on tiny 2004 FY15, which is passing through the Earth-Moon system, making the eleventh-closest observed Earth passage today at about 2030 UTC (3:30pm EST). The Saturday Daily Orbit Update MPEC carries one additional observation from Observatorio Astronomico de Mallorca (OAM) last night and follow-up observation this morning in Arizona from the Catalina Sky Survey (CSS), which discovered FY15 yesterday morning.

Where the Stardust spacecraft is today 
relative to 81P/Wild 2 and planets

Stardust:  The mission Status Report for yesterday (the first since February 20th) says, "The Stardust spacecraft remains in excellent condition as its post-encounter trajectory carries it through the solar system's main asteroid belt." This composite illustration from the mission site shows where the spacecraft is today and how comet 81P/Wild 2 is pulling away, headed back toward Jupiter's orbit.

Risk monitoring - panel 1/1 Major News for 27 March 2004 back top next  
Risk monitoring 27 March

The Saturday Daily Orbit Update MPEC carries observations of 2004 FU4 from early yesterday from the 2.5m Isaac Newton Telescope (INT) on La Palma in the Canary Islands, and from the Spacewatch 1.8m telescope in Arizona. Alan Fitzsimmons, who manages the NEO "override program" that allows brief diversion of the INT for difficult high-priority targets, tells A/CC that 2004 FU4 is "getting brighter as the month goes on so hopefully it should come into range of a lot more people in the next week or two." And the European Spaceguard Central Node Priority List notes that FU4 will be in view until early September.

When 2004 FU4 was last reported, from early Monday, it had only a 3.04-day observing arc and a few low-rated impact solutions. Now, with a 6.98-day arc, the risk assessments have taken an unusually sharp jump, rising four and a half points on the Palermo Scale (a technical scale used for scientific analysis) in the NEODyS assessment, and a bit more than 2.7 points in the JPL assessment, and causing both monitors to raise this object to Torino Scale 1 (TS-1), a routine alert

Summary Risk Table - sources checked at 2308 UTC, 27 Mar

Object

Assessment

Years

VI
PS
cum
PS
max
T
S
Arc 
days
 2004 FU4 NEODyS 3/272010-207927-0.41-0.4216.975
JPL 3/272010-2103104-0.34-0.3616.975
 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.

that an object "merits special monitoring."

While both monitors have now added more solutions (JPL has gone from 15 to 104), the higher overall ratings are driven by the 2010 solution alone, in part due to how the Palermo Scale rates otherwise identical solutions higher for less warning time. An "impact solution" (aka "virtual impactor" or "VI") is not a prediction but rather a possibility that hasn't yet been eliminated. To learn more, see "Understanding Risk Pages" by Jon Giorgini of JPL, and other links related to this subject such as impact hazard scales.

The last object put at TS-1 was on March 1st. That lasted a day, but can go weeks, sometimes months.

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