Wednesday7 April 200412:20am MDT 8 April2004-04-08 UTC 0620 back top next  


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


Today's issue status: done & updated 2x
yesterdayApriltomorrowIndex

Cover: The Stardust mission posted new imagery March 17th of comet 81P/Wild 2 from the January 2nd flyby — a composite of the nucleus and jets, and a pseudo-stereo image pair and anaglyph. For pairing, the mission used a different version of the same first frame released January 2nd and a previously unreleased frame. Like the first frame and the only other frame yet released at minimally useful resolution (see January 9th for that and a low-res animation), this third frame was fuzzied due to an embargo on scientific data. At left you see it after some sharpening in Photoshop, flipped and rotated to match the orientation of the other frames, and reduced 50% to fit here.

News briefs – panel 1/2 Major News for 7 April 2004 back top next  
News briefs

Siding Spring Survey:  The University of Arizona (UA) yesterday and the Australian National University (ANU) Research School of Astronomy & Astrophysics (RSAA) today formally announced together the inauguration of the NASA-funded Siding Spring Survey (SSS, see A/CC news March 17th), and also report its first two NEO discoveries (A/CC March 30th). SSS uses the Uppsala Schmidt 0.5m telescope at Siding Spring Observatory in New South Wales with technology and support from the UA Catalina Sky Survey (CSS), and has limited access to the ANU 1.0m telescope for follow-up. Rob McNaught has posted an SSS history that includes a recent difficult recovery (1998 SE36, see MPEC 2004-F08).

Distant objects:  Read down to a second completely separate item in that RSAA news today, "Beyond Neptune," telling about the Southern Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt Survey, its losses when Mt. Stromlo Observatory was destroyed by wild fire (A/CC news links), and the program's resurrection.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery:  There are reports at many news sites today that P-38 wreckage found off the coast of Marseilles, France has been positively identified as that of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, who disappeared while on a reconaissance mission in 1944, but why the aircraft crashed remains a mystery.

  • Associated Press wire story at CBS news, "'Little Prince' Mystery Solved,"
  • CBC News, "'Little Prince' author's plane wreck found after 6 decades"
  • Financial Times, "Sea bed reveals fate of iconic French author"
  • Agence Presse France (AFP) at Expatica, three reports: first, "Little Prince author death plane found off Marseille," second, "Saint-Exupery, a heroic French aviator who wrote the world's third best selling book" & third, "Little Prince author Saint-Exupery suicide theory emerges"

Some of this reporting is muddled on historic detail, and it's surprising that Paris-based AFP would report that France was occupied by Germany in 1938, a mistake also seen on a Saint-Exupery bio site. Here is a longer biography.

more news briefs >>

News briefs – panel 2/2 Major News for 7 April 2004 back top next  

<< continued from panel 1

Readings:  Astrobiology Magazine has an article today, "Delayed Gratification Zones," telling how in 4 billion years the Sun will expand to the extent that Pluto/Charon and the Kuiper Belt will be warmed to the temperature of Miami Beach, and Triton, too, if still orbiting Neptune intact in that distant time.

[On] January 2, 2004, scientists caught a close-up glimpse of a Kuiper Belt Object. The Stardust spacecraft passed within 136 kilometers of comet Wild2, an enormous snowball that spent most of its 4.6 billion-year lifetime orbiting in the Kuiper Belt. 

See 81P/Wild 2 on today's "cover" above.

SpaceRef.com posted a new issue of David Morrison's NEO News E-mail newsletter today, "Astronauts Schweickart and Lu testify before Congress," requesting that Congress "direct NASA to incorporate the B612 mission goal of demonstrating the capability of landing on, exploring, and deflecting an asteroid." For more about the B612 Foundation, see a Space.com 5 February 2003 article. The B612 name comes from the "The Little Prince," written by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, about whom, see above.

DIY impact analysis:  The University of Arizona (UA) has a news release today, "Web-Based Program Calculates Effects of an Earth Impact," announcing the Earth Impact Effects Program page. Pick your distance, object size, and density (from ice to iron). Missing from the examples are Tunguska (no crater but lots of damage) and fairly well studied recent atmospheric events that caused no ground damage.

8 April update:  Marco Langbroek points out that one of the authors of that page, H. Jay Melosh, also co-authored a somewhat similar and still available Crater calculation page in the late 1990s.

Risk monitoring - panel 1/1 Major News for 7 April 2004 back top next  
Risk monitoring 7 April

There is no news to report today in risk monitoring.


Late update:  After midnight UT but still Wednesday in Pasadena, JPL has posted 2004 GA. It was announced in MPEC 2004-G13 at 2308 UT as discovered earlier in the day with NEAT's telescope on Haleakala in Hawaii and confirmed tonight by Modra Observatory in Slovakia, La Canada Observatory in Spain, Klet Observatory in the Czech Republic, Great Shefford Observatory in England, and Observatorio Astronomico de Mallorca (OAM). JPL puts the object's diameter at just over 320 meters/yards.

Summary Risk Table - sources checked at 0603 UTC, 8 Apr

Object

Assessment

Years

VI
PS
cum
PS
max
T
S
Arc 
days
 2004 GAJPL 4/82024-20948-5.31-5.6400.393
 2004 FU4NEODyS 4/2R E M O V E D
JPL 4/22085-20851-3.07-3.07013.259
 2004 FE31 NEODyS 4/42014-208013-3.13-3.3004.695
JPL 4/42012-210353-2.96-3.1004.695
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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