|Monday||9 August 2004||6:01pm MDT||2004-08-10 UTC 0001|
Comet news: The University of California at Davis has a news release today about how William Jackson et al. have developed methods to use visible and ultraviolet spectroscopy to study the chemical composition of comets whose emission spectrum in the visible and ultraviolet bands is full of thousands of lines, making it difficult to identify any one component. This is demonstrated with finding carbon disulfide in comet 122P/de Vico.
At just before Sunday midnight UT, comet C/2004 P1 (NEAT) was announced in MPEC 2004-P23, which shows the first NEAT/Palomar images as coming from early on the 5th and 7th with confirmation from four European observatories through Sunday night. The first non-SOHO comet discovery announcement since June 17th, this is a distant object, with a very preliminary calculation of perihelion two years from now, on May 13th of 2006 at 5.69 AU, out just a bit beyond Jupiter.
Solar sailing: The Japanese Institute of Space and Astronautical Science is reporting the world-first successful full-fledged deployment of big films for solar sail, launched today from Kagoshima on a suborbital rocket (sail diameters not stated).
The S-310 rocket which was launched from Uchinoura Space Center at 15:15 of August 9, 2004, carried two kinds of deploying schemes of films with 7.5 micrometers thickness. A clover type deployment was started at 100 seconds after liftoff at 122 km altitude, and a fan type deployment was started at 169 km altitude at 230 seconds after liftoff, following the jettison of clover type system. Both experiments of two types deployment were successful.
Xing-Ming Zhou: On the U.S. Navy's SOHO discoveries chat page and the German Comet Section news page is word from August 5th that Xing-Ming Zhou of China died at age 39 in a car accident that day on his way home from an astronomical conference. He was a regular on the chat page and made many discoveries from the SOHO LASCO views, and was one of few who also worked from the SOHO SWAN view. See for instance comet C/2002 G3 (SOHO-422), news from 28 May 2004 and 4 September 2002, and, just today, MPEC 2004-P31 with his C/2004 N6 (SOHO) discovery of July 9th.
There is no risk monitoring news to report today.
Bits & pieces: The Rosetta comet mission has a status report today for the week of 30 July through 6 August. It tells that From now on the Rosetta spacecraft will be fully controlled via [the newly installed] version 7 of the on-board software, and reports further testing of the navigation camera and the orbiter's OSIRIS imager.
Reedy Creek Observatory in southeastern Queensland, Australia has reported 2004 NN8 from yesterday, the first observation since July 21st, adding roughly 18 days to what had been an observing arc of about eight days for this unusual object. While other orbital elements remain roughly similar, the new semimajor axis calculation is quite different (table). See a Reedy Creek image and 2004 NN8 links in news of August 3rd.
The Reno, Nevada Gazette-Journal has a nice piece from August 6th on light pollution and telling about how Western Nevada Community College officials are installing new outdoor lighting on [the Carson City] campus to preserve the starry night sky for the school's Jack C. Davis Observatory.
The European Spaceguard Central Node Priority List updated at least twice today after being inactive since July 29th.