Tuesday17 August 20049:02pm MDT2004-08-18 UTC 0302 back top next  

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

Today's issue status: done, expanded

  • News briefs – meteor news, mission technology & impactor practice
    panel 2 – bits & pieces
  • Risk monitoring NEODyS & JPL have posted 2004 PP97, problems at NEODyS

Cover: The newest potentially hazardous-asteroid discovery, 2004 QB, is seen here in confirmation imagery from Robert Hutsebaut in Belgium using a Rent-A-Scope 0.25m telescope in New Mexico this morning. It is three 20-sec. exposures stacked on motion of 1.66"/min. toward 295.3°.
      Estimated to be on the order of 355 meters/yards wide, this object was discovered yesterday by the Siding Spring Survey (SSS) and was confirmed also by Marxuquera and Consell observatories in Spain, Table Mountain Observatory in California, and Reedy Creek Observatory in Queensland, Australia.

News briefs – panel 1/1 Major News for 17 August 2004 back top next  
News briefs

Meteor news:  The Chicago Tribune is reporting today that a meteor “streaked above the Chicago area, initiating a sonic boom” and “lighting the night” at about 1am Monday.

The Norfolk, England Eastern Daily Press reports today that an elderly Lowestoft woman last week received “a nasty gash on the arm” from what may be a walnut-size meteor. See also an Evening Standard report today and an item dated tomorrow at News.com.au in Australia.

Mission technology:  The Associated Press has a story published at Columbia, South Carolina's The State yesterday telling that Argonne National Laboratory-West and the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory will be merged in February as Idaho National Laboratory, and that it appears this facility will get the job of turning neptunium-237 into the plutonium-238 used in radioisotopic thermal generators (RTGs) for powering spacecraft. It notes that “Argonne-West is currently building a new radioisotopic thermal generators for a Pluto probe,” which is, of course, New Horizons. That RTG is to run on plutonium-238 processed at Los Alamos Lab, where the recent news has been a work stoppage (see “Mission news” August 3rd and 8th).

Impactor practice:  A message from JPL's Don Yeomans to professional NEO programs Saturday was forwarded to the Minor Planet Mailing list (MPML) yesterday. It requests “astrometric observations for the Genesis spacecraft that will be returning its solar wind particle cargo to Earth on September 8, 2004,” and says:

As a true Earth impactor, this spacecraft return provides a nice example for exercising our Earth impact probability system (Sentry) as well as providing ... support for the Genesis Project itself. 

Jon Giorgini at JPL noted there are some differences, such as being “much slower than typical interplanetary encounter speeds” and “It will manuever prior to impact.”

Yeomans pointed people to JPL's Horizons ephemeris generater, and Gareth Williams responded that a “much easier interface to the same data” is available at The MPC Earth-Orbiting Space Junk Tracker Page (EOSJT). And Yeomans requested that observations be sent directly to three JPL E-mail addresses. Bill Gray asked to receive them also, through a group he had “set up as a little experiment” in sharing astrometry. Later he announced a “pseudo-MPEC” for Genesis based on what he had received.

More recently, Giorgini told the list that “The trajectory for the Genesis bus, which is to be diverted to heliocentric

continued >>

News briefs – panel 1/1 Major News for 17 August 2004 back top next  

<< Impactor practice continued

orbit after capsule separation Sep 8, is also on Horizons (Sep 8-11); object ID= -46,” and he explained that “If the sample return capsule fails to separate from the bus, the divert maneuver allows another attempt at a future date.” NEO observers would presumably play a role in helping plan such a rescue effort if one becomes necessary.

This is a good place to mention that Bill Gray at Project Pluto has a sat_id program that can be fed MPC-format observations to learn whether an unidentified object is actually a known satellite. And Mike McCants has a large collection of “Computer programs and data related to satellite tracking.”

Bits & pieces:  The Spitzer Space Telescope (SST) yesterday posted a “new complete list” of all approved programs, which include projects such as a studying Centaurs, low-albedo asteroids, a young asteroid family, comet dust trails, and active and extinct comets, including mission destinations 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and 9P/Tempel 1 as well as former mission destinations 1P/Halley and 2P/Encke. Also catching a stellar occultation by Pluto, observing the Pluto-Charon system, and observing and measuring the size of objects beyond Pluto, including binaries.

The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Valley News Dispatch has an article from yesterday about light pollution affecting the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh (AAAP) Wagman Observatory in Deer Lakes Park.

Risk monitoring - panel 1/1 Major News for 17 August 2004 back top next  
Risk monitoring 17 August

2004 PP97 was announced yesterday in MPEC 2004-Q03 with a 1515 UT time stamp (8:15am in Pasadena, 5:15pm in Pisa), and not flagged as potentially hazardous. No new observations were reported in Tuesday morning's Daily Orbit Update MPEC (DOU), and, as of 2200 UTC today, none are indicated yet elsewhere. Today both NEODyS and JPL posted this half-mile-size object (about 835 meters/yards wide) with impact solutions that are highly preliminary.

Today JPL revised its assessment for 2004 PU42 based on observations carried in the Saturday and Sunday DOUs, slightly raising its low risk ratings. This small object hasn't been reported observed since late Saturday.

NEODyS problems:  Today NEODyS informed the Minor Planet Mailing List (MPML) and A/CC that the computer hosting its master Web site and running its CLOMON2 “impact monitoring robot” failed yesterday and there “is no hope for a quick repair.” If the problem is “severe and cannot be fixed cheaply,” Andrea Milani said lack of funding would mean having to discontinue the service at the University of Pisa in Italy.

Meanwhile, the backup NEODyS service at the University of Valladolid under Genny Sansaturio continues

Summary Risk Table - sources checked at 0232 UTC, 18 Aug




 2004 PU42JPL 8/172071-210318-5.23-5.8503.772
 NEODyS 8/152071-20776-6.23-6.5203.772
 2004 PP97 NEODyS 8/172029-20757-4.04-4.5500.987
JPL 8/172023-210335-3.51-4.1100.987
 2004 ME6JPL 6/282017-209943-5.64-6.3500.873
 NEODyS 6/272044-20637-7.29-7.7600.873
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.

with more powerful computing and with backing from the Spanish government. So this for now becomes the main service and the backup Web site is a slower machine in Pisa that can't run CLOMON2 (see this alternate link for an explanation of the current situation).

A/CC has today implemented linking changes in its Summary Risk Table (above) and in its Consolidated Risk Tables (CRT) for the duration, putting the Valladolid information and links first, and giving the alternate Pisa site as “backup.”

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