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2007 news images

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From time to time, as relevant images about minor objects currently in the news become available from observers or from public news sources, we include one with a brief caption at the top of our daily news. This page catalogs the images posted this year along with their captions and links. (Jump to this year's latest.)

2004 KH17 by Robt. Hutsebaut via RAS Obs. 30 May 2004

27 May 2007

PHO 2004 KH17 was recovered yesterday, as reported here. Here it is seen from Robert Hutsebaut near the end of this object's discovery confirmation process on May 30th, 2004. He did this observing work over the Internet from his living room in Belgium just before noon, operating a telescope at the RAS Observatory in New Mexico.
Dawn spacecraft with solar panel 
credit NASA/George Shelton

30 May 2007

The NASA Dawn Main-Belt asteroid mission reports that last week "the solar arrays were attached to the spacecraft and the system for deploying them in space was given one final test, which went very smoothly." Here Astrotech "workers check the Dawn spacecraft after testing the deployment of its more than 32-foot-long solar panels on one side." Credit: NASA/George Shelton.
SOFIA arrives in California June 1st 
Credit NASA/Tony Landis

2 June 2007

The SOFIA airborne observatory arrived Thursday, May 31st at NASA Dryden in southern California, flown from Waco, Texas where its 2.5m telescope had been installed. See more info here. Credit: NASA/Tony Landis.
6R10DB9 on March 20th 
© 2007 Great Shefford Obs.

3 June 2007

Peter Birtwhistle says he is "quite looking forward to mid-June when 6R10DB9 comes rushing through one last time." He caught it before, as seen in this imagery from March 20th. "It" is believed to be a tiny asteroid that has been a temporary satellite of the Earth. See Friday's report about the radar observations planned for its passage at 0.7 lunar distance this month on the way back into heliocentric orbit.
      About this image: It comes from a composite of 176 six-second exposures made over a period of 17 minutes and 36 seconds. The object was moving at 24"/min. in PA 357° (upward) at magnitude R=19.3 and fading. The inset has the pixels doubled to twice size. ©Copyright 2007 Great Shefford Observatory, where you will find more info.
Cape Canaveral Pad 17B from where 
Dawn will launch. Credit: NASA/Amanda Diller

4 June 2007

Undated photo of mobile service towers, or gantries, at Pads 17-A and (right) 17-B at Cape Canaveral where NASA's Dawn mission will launch. The mission reports that during 28 May to 1 June, "the Dawn spacecraft was moved to the fueling area at Astrotech." Florida Today reports a launch delay (see here). Credit: NASA/Amanda Diller.
Dawn's solar panels reflecting Earth 
illus. courtesy NASA Dawn mission

6 June 2007

In this excerpt from an animation, the Dawn spacecraft's huge spread of solar panels reflects the Florida coastline from space. Courtesy NASA Dawn mission.
Comet C/2007 K5 (Lovejoy) 26 May 2007 discovery 
images by/Copyright Terry Lovejoy

8 June 2007

Terry Lovejoy in Queensland, Australia has posted a gallery for comet C/2007 K5 (Lovejoy) with his discovery images. The illustration here shows part of the first 2007 May 26.340 image at full resolution (7.6"/pixel) with the comet at center, and, above that, a mosaic at 33.3% size made from the first image (comet to the right) and an image from May 28.347. North is up and east is left. This observing was done with Canon digital cameras using 200mm lenses. Copyright Terry Lovejoy, used with permission. Further astrometry has been published today (see here), and read more about this comet in June 2nd news.
Unknown comet dives into Sun as seen 
from SOHO C2 on 7-8 June 2007

9 June 2007

Death of a comet, probably a fragment of an ancient, much larger comet (see SpaceWeather.com yesterday). This Sun-diving act was seen from the SOHO LASCO C2 Coronagraph with the Sun, indicated by the white circle, blocked out by an occulting disk. The times of the composited images, beginning at the bottom on June 7th, are 1954, 2108, 2206, 2306, 2354, 0054, 0154,0254, 0330, and 0430 GMT. They were assembled at A/CC at 1024x1024 resolution, cropped, and reduced to half size. Original images courtesy of NASA/ESA SOHO mission.
136199 Eris & its moon from HST 
30 Aug. 2006 Credit: NASA, ESA & M. Brown

15 June 2007

From the Hubble Space Telescope on 30 August 2006 comes this image of 136199 Eris (2003 UB313) and its satellite, Dysnomia. See more about this work here. Credit: NASA, ESA & Mike Brown.
Hubble 2004 image of Fomalhaut debris ring 
Credit NASA/ESA & P. Kalas et al.

16 June 2007

This 3.6-hour exposure of the Fomalhaut debris ring was made during May, August, and October of 2004 with the Hubble Space Telescope ACS camera. See news about this ring here. Credit: NASA, ESA, P. Kalas, J. Graham & M. Clampin.
Dawn spacecraft at Astrotech before 
spin-balance testing. Credit: NASA.

18 June 2007

During preparations for spin-balance testing at Astrotech "the back of a solar array panel was slightly damaged by a technician's tool," reportedly requiring "minor repairs" but not affecting the new launch schedule. See June E-news (313Kb PDF) posted yesterday for links to other mission news and info, including fun stuff for kids. Photo credit: NASA.
Departing temporary moon 6R10DB9 
June 15th at Great Shefford Obs.

19 June 2007

Earth's temporary and apparently natural satellite, tiny asteroid 6R10DB9, was caught again by Peter Birtwhistle late on June 15th. Two positions are seen here from an animation, each from a stack of 20 four-second exposures. The object is moving 47"/min. downward. Scale is 2.14"/pixel and north is up. The astrometry from that observing session and a session last night are reported in DASOs 106 and 107. Imagery copyright Great Shefford Observatory, where you will find more details and the animation. See also news on June 3rd.
      JPL indicates that Goldstone in southern California succeeded in observing 6R10DB9 with radar. See the 6R10DB9 Planning page for more about that effort.
Artist's concept of New Horizons in 
the Pluto system. Credit JHUAPL/SwRI.

20 June 2007

Artist's concept of the New Horizons spacecraft approaching Pluto and its three moons in the Summer of 2015. See news here. Credit: JHUAPL/SwRI.
Artist's concept of Gaia spacecraft 
with Sun shield. Copyright ESA.

21 June 2007

Artist's concept of the Gaia spacecraft (front and back views), with its Sun shield, solar panel, and the central structure with payload and service modules. See news here. Credit: Medialab. Copyright ESA.
2 Feb. 2006 photo of SOFIA telescope 
bay. Credit L-3 Communications/USRA.

23 June 2007

This 2 Feb. 2006 photo shows the opening in SOFIA's fuselage with the 100-inch infrared telescope. Credit L-3 Communications/USRA.
Dawn being mated to its upper-
stage booster. Credit NASA.

26 June 2007



The Dawn asteroid-mission spacecraft being guided down to mate onto its upper-stage booster rocket at Astrotech. From an image released by Kennedy Space Center on June 21st, credit: NASA.
HST May 2007 image of Dawn destination, 4 Vesta 
Credit: NASA, ESA, L. McFadden & G. Bacon

27 June 2007

Image from May 14th from the Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 showing the Dawn mission's first destination, asteroid 4 Vesta (see misson news here). To get a better sense of surface features, the smallest of which here are 60 km. (37 miles) across, see a video with the 5.34-hour rotation, also shown as a montage. Credit: NASA, ESA, L. McFadden, and G. Bacon. Vesta's southern hemisphere, to the lower right, is shaped by an impact crater almost as wide as the asteroid's diameter.
SOFIA 27 June debut 
Credit:NASA/Tony Landis

29 June 2007

Debut ceremony for the SOFIA airborne observatory at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center on June 27th. See news links here. Credit: NASA/Tony Landis.
3D rendering of Lake Cheko 
Credit Tunguska Home Page

30 June 2007

Ninety-nine years ago this morning something exploded high in the daylit sky over the Tunguska region of Siberia, flattening a forest area the size of a large city. Although no primary impact feature has been identified, the latest news (links reported Saturday through yesterday) has been that nearby Lake Cheko may be a possible secondary crater. This rendering of a 3D terrain model, viewed from the south, has the lake's water level 40 meters below actual to show the underlying shape. Credit: Tunguska Home Page at the University of Bologna.
Dawn arrives at its launch 
pad. Credit: NASA/Troy Cryder

1 July 2007

Workers at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Pad 17-B attach a crane to a cannister carrying the Dawn spacecraft, mated to its third-stage booster, in preparation for stacking atop the Delta II rocket and launch next Saturday. Credit: NASA/Troy Cryder.
1 Ceres imaged from the HST. 
Credit: NASA, ESA & J. Parker.

2 July 2007

Displaying the hydrostatic equilibrium that separates dwarf planets from other large minor objects, its roundness is just about all that can be discerned about 1 Ceres in this image made during December 2003 and January 2004 with the Advanced Camera for Surveys on the Hubble Space Telescope. The Dawn spacecraft is to launch Saturday to begin a journey that will get an up-close view in 2015. See news here. Credit: NASA, ESA & J. Parker.
NIAC student fellows Rigel Woida & 
Daniella Della-Giustina. Credit UA.

3 July 2007

In May last year two University of Arizona undergrads were awarded NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Student Fellows Prizes -- Rigel Woida (left) in regard to Mars terraforming, and engineering physics major and cosmochemistry student Daniella Della-Giustina about using near-Earth asteroids as radiation shielding for human travel to Mars -- examples of NIAC's futuristic work that is now being closed down. See news here. Credit Univ. of Arizona.
9P/Tempel 1 at 67 secs. after 
impact. Credit NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD.

4 July 2007

At 0552 UTC two years ago today (still July 3rd in the western U.S.), NASA's Deep Impact mission struck 9P/Tempel 1. The flyby spacecraft's high-res camera took this photo 67 seconds after the impactor spacecraft hit the comet's nucleus. The flyby spacecraft is still alive and well, and yesterday was given a new comet mission. See news here. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD.
Dawn enclosed in its fairing atop its 
Delta II launcher.Credit NASA/Amanda Diller.

5 July 2007



The Dawn launch has been postponed until Sunday and possibly later due to weather. See news here.

The Dawn spacecraft, mounted with its third-stage booster atop the Delta II launcher on Cape Canaveral AFS Pad 17-B, is seen with one-half of its aerodynamic fairing being attached to the rocket. Added highlighting outlines the dark spacecraft and its folded solar arrays against the dark inside of the fairing. The smaller image shows the whole fairing almost fully installed. Credit: NASA/Amanda Diller.
SOFIA on its 2nd flight 
Credit: NASA/Jim Ross

6 July 2007

The SOFIA airborne observatory on its its second test flight on May 10th. The telescope door, which hasn't been opened in flight yet, is in the slight bulge seen on the aircraft's left side between wing and tail. The fourth flight, on May 31st, was to transfer from where SOFIA had been outfitted in Texas to its new home in southern California. Credit: NASA/Jim Ross.
NextSat over the Sinai Peninsula 
on June 16th. Credit DARPA.

7 July 2007

The pioneering U.S. DoD Orbital Express mission's ASTRO spacecraft took this photo of its partner NextSat over the Sinai Peninsula during complex autonomous maneuvering on June 16th. See a mission report here. Credit: DARPA.
Artist's concept of Dawn 
in flight. Credit Orbital.

8 July 2007

Artist's rendering of Dawn in flight, courtesy of the spacecraft's fabricator, Orbital Sciences Corp. The mission launch has now been rescheduled for September -- see news here.
South view from Kitt Peak 9 July 2007. 
Credit: Kitt Peak Natl. Obs.

9 July 2007

In this Webcam view from the 4-meter Mayall Telescope, smoke from the Alambre Fire rises from a canyon south of Kitt Peak at 1:39pm MST today. The Spacewatch 0.9- and 1.8-meter telescope domes are seen just beyond the foreground 2.3m Bok Telescope, with the 1.8-meter's structure to the left, further away and not as tall. Credit: Kitt Peak National Observatory.
Alambre Fire smoke off southern Kitt Peak. Credit Coronado Natl. Forest/Dyan Bone.

10 July 2007

Photo of smoke from the Alambre Fire as seen looking over the southern edge of Kitt Peak, with the McMath-Pierce and SOLIS solar observatories in the foreground. See here for fire news updates. Credit Coronado National Forest/Dyan Bone.
Artist's concept of Stardust spacecraft. 
Credit: Lockheed Martin.

11 July 2007

An artist's concept of the Stardust spacecraft approaching a comet. The Stardust mission, with its original mission accomplished, has been assigned a new comet flyby task -- see news here and last week. Credit: Lockheed Martin.
Akari sky survey highlighting 
infrared-bright star-forming regions 
in the Milky Way disk. Credit JAXA.

12 July 2007

This composite Akari sky survey image in the infrared at 9 micrometers shows a cross-section of the Milky Way galaxy disk with its dense bright center and bright star-forming regions -- more info here. Credit: JAXA. See also the Akari mission site.
Schematic of a protoplanetary disk cross-section 
from the Far-Infrared Interferometer mission proposal.

13 July 2007

This schematic "cartoon" of a protoplanetary disk cross-section is from the Far-Infrared Interferometer (FIRI) ESA mission proposal (see here), which is a good general read about what isn't known and needs to be learned about protoplanetary disks. This broad research topic includes how asteroids, comets, and meteors were formed, as well as the rest of the Solar System and our own selves, of course.
Small NEA 2007 NL1 at 
discovery. Credit: LUSS.

14 July 2007

Small near-Earth asteroid 2007 NL1 at discovery on July 11th, shown here in an A/CC composite from images posted with Quanzhi Ye's report about this discovery by the Lulin Sky Survey (LUSS), used with permission. These are 60-sec. exposures made with the Lulin Observatory 0.41m telescope in Taiwan. North is up, object motion 4.16"/min. PA 130.2 (toward the lower left), R magnitude ~20.1. See our report about this discovery here.
Sudbury impact structure space radar 
image. Credit: NASA GSFC.

15 July 2007

The Ontario Sudbury impact structure, seen here in Space Shuttle SIR-B radar imaging from a NASA GSFC tutorial on "Remote Sensing of Craters," shows evidence of its great age and the geologic forces that have reshaped it from circular to ellipsoidal. New evidence of the impact is believed to have been found to the southwest in Minnesota -- see news here.
Jupiter SL9 C, A, and E impact spots on 
17 July 1994. Credit John Clark/NASA HST.

16 July 2007

On this day 13 years ago comet Shoemaker-Levy-9 began a six-day assault on Jupiter's southern hemisphere. In this blue-light image from the Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field Planetary Camera-2, the dark spot 23 hours later from that first hit is located in the lower middle, flanked by two other fragment impact areas. These cloud disturbances can each be roughly compared to an Earth diameter in size. Jupiter's Great Red Spot is seen at upper right. Credit: John Clark/NASA HST.
MIT BioSuit spacesuit 
prototype. Credit MIT.

17 July 2007

For tomorrow's explorers from a news item yesterday, the MIT BioSuit is described as safer and much more flexible to work in than today's spacesuits. A prototype is modeled here by Dava Newman, professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems. She, "her colleague Jeff Hoffman, her students and a local design firm ... have been working on the project for about seven years." Credit: MIT.
Mars Trojans in 
JPL Orbit Viewer.

18 July 2007

The four currently listed Mars Trojans -- asteroidal objects that share the orbit of Mars. They travel inclined to the plane of that orbit and stay ahead of or behind Mars at the Lagrange L4 or L5 positions. The three blue dots at L5 are, from the bottom up, newly discovered 2007 NS2, 5261 Eureka (1990 MB), and 101429 1998 VF31, while 121514 1999 UJ7 resides at L4 (at top). Mars is the red dot and the other terrestrial planets are green dots. The planetary positions are today's, and note that the Mars L5 point is currently at opposition (in line with Earth from the Sun). This diagram was composited at A/CC from the JPL Orbit Viewer. See here for news about 2007 NS2.
Comet C/2007 N3 (Lulin) at discovery from 
Lulin Obs. Credit LIMIT, Q.-z. Ye, and C.-S. Lin.

19 July 2007

Comet C/2007 N3 (Lulin) at discovery on July 11th by Lulin Minor Bodies Tracking (LIMIT, until today called "LUSS") using the 0.41-meter telescope at Lulin Observatory in Taiwan. The object is at magnitude R~19.1 traveling 0.37"/min. in PA 249.4 (toward the right). North is up. Credit: Quanzhi Ye and Chi Sheng Lin, used with permission. An update MPEC has been issued for this object today -- see here.
Pluto, Charon, Nix, and Hydra from 
the HST. Credit: NASA, ESA, etc.

20 July 2007

Pluto at center with its large moon, Charon, and small moons Hydra and Nix, from the Hubble Space Telescope in 2005. Charon has been in the news recently about its water-ice surface and possible cryovolcanism, and see news here about Hydra and Nix. Credit: NASA, ESA, H. Weaver, A. Stern, and the HST Pluto Companion Search Team.
Pan-STARRS OTCCD array 
Courtesy Pan-STARRS.

21 July 2007

"The largest digital camera ever built," the Pan-STARRS gigapixel camera focal plane is seen at right, nearly complete in June. There are 60 Orthogonal Transfer CCDs, each of which (left) is comprised of an 8x8 array of 600x600-pixel CCDs. A 56-cm. window with a corrector lens will be assembled over the focal plane. See news here. Images courtesy of Pan-STARRS.
Comet Levy-Shoemaker 9 fragment W 
hits Jupiter. Credit: NASA JPL/Galileo.

22 July 2007

Enroute for 57 months and still 16 months away from the Jupiter system, the Galileo spacecraft on this day 13 years ago caught the flash of the last known of 20-plus fragments that hit Jupiter from comet Shoemaker-Levy 9. These images in green light are, from left to right, 2-1/3 seconds apart. Credit: NASA JPL/Galileo.
The Dawn spacecraft being separated 
from its launcher. Credit NASA KSC.

24 July 2007

Atop the gantry at Pad 17-B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station over the weekend, the Dawn spacecraft was removed from its Delta II launcher second stage to be stored until a new launch window opens during September and October. Credit: NASA KSC.
Dawn spacecraft in protective container 
lowered to the ground. Credit NASA KSC.

25 July 2007

The Dawn spacecraft being lowered in its protective container from the mobile service tower on Pad 17-B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, headed into storage until a new launch window opens in September-October. Image left and right credit NASA KSC.
Dawn motors away from the 
launch pad. Credit: NASA KSC.

26 July 2007

Honk if you'd rather be in space. The Dawn spacecraft and its third-stage booster, in a protective canister, leave Cape Canaveral launch Pad 17-B by diesel rather than rocket power. Credit: NASA KSC.
Dawn spacecraft back at 
Astrotech. Credit: NASA KSC.

27 July 2007

Back at the Astrotech payload processing facility, still mated to its third-stage booster, the Dawn spacecraft now awaits its next launch opportunity. Credit: NASA KSC.
Great Shefford Obs. at high water. 
Photo courtesy Peter Birtwhistle.

28 July 2007

Great Shefford Observatory a week ago Friday during flooding in southern England. Peter Birtwhistle reports water didn't enter the observatory but some did get into his home, although nothing like just to the north in Gloucestershire where buildings were inundated for a week. ©Copyright Great Shefford Observatory. See "Bits & pieces" here for more about this.
9969 Braille from DS1. Credit NASA JPL.

29 July 2007

Early on this day UTC eight years ago, NASA's Deep Space 1 mission flew past 9969 Braille (1992 KD), a large asteroid (2.2 x 1 km.) that is spectographically similar to 4 Vesta. A number of last-minute problems prevented close-up imagery and only this enhanced low-resolution image was obtained from a distance. Credit: NASA JPL.
Artist's concept of a NASA Orion 
crewed spacecraft approaching an 
asteroid. Credit: DigitalSpace.

30 July 2007

In this presentation being made public today (see more here), DigitalSpace renders up a vision of how humans could land on an asteroid using NASA's Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, shown here on approach. Image courtesy of Digital Space, some rights reserved.
Artist's concept of a NASA asteroid 
mission touches down and going to 
work. Credit DigitalSpace.

31 July 2007

DigitalSpace visualizations of approaching an asteroid with an "NEO Surface Access Module" attached to the NASA Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle and then, firmly anchored, sampling the surface. See news yesterday and more technology links here. Images courtesy of Digital Space, some rights reserved.
ALMA antenna transporter. 
Credit: ESO.

1 August 2007

What astronomy job does this chap have? (And does he have to change those 28 tires?) He's driving a 130-ton vehicle designed to precisely position the more than five-dozen 115-ton radio antennas of the reconfigurable Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). There may be little need for the windshield wipers, however, since ALMA is located in a high Chilean desert described as the "driest place on Earth." Copyright ESO.
Magalena Ridge Observatory. 
Copyright 2007 MRO.

2 August 2007

The central 2.4-meter telescope at Magdalena Ridge Observatory (MRO) near Socorro, New Mexico. See more about the MRO here. ©Copyright MRO 2007, used with permission.
APEX submillimeter telescope 
in Chile. Copyright: ESO.

5 August 2007

The 12-meter ESO APEX (Atacama Pathfinder Experiment) submillimeter (0.2-1.5mm) telescope in Chile's high Atacama Desert has put into service the "world's largest bolometer camera." Among other research, it will study star formation and may also be used to observe Solar System small objects such as comets and KBOs. See news here. Copyright ESO.
Flight path for studying Aurigid outburst. 
Google map from SETI Inst.

7 August 2007

This Google map, courtesy of the SETI Institute's Aurigid Meteor Shower Observing Campaign page, shows the northeast-to-southwest path planned for two aircraft with observing teams to study the unusual outburst predicted for early on Sept. 1st. See more here.
Two NASA Ares NEO intercept mission 
concepts. Credit: NASA MSFC.

8 August 2007

NEO interceptor mission concept, with kinetic impactor (left) and nuclear warhead options, each five-plus meters long. Not shown is a solar ablation option. The NASA MSFC proposal would have six such packages delivered by an Ares launch vehicle (seen in the background). See a report here. This image was composited at A/CC from images credited to Adams et al. at NASA MSFC.
Deimos (left) and Phobos 
Credit: .

11 August 2007

Today is the 130th anniversary of the first discovery of a moon around Mars, although Deimos (left) was actually found on the 12th UTC. Asaph Hall at the U.S. Naval Observatory 0.66m telescope in Washington, D.C. next discovered Phobos six days later. Probably captured asteroids, here they are shown at the same scale, with the diameter of Deimos at about 12.4 km. and Phobos 22.2 km. Composite image credit: NASA. See also JPL's Planetary Photojournal Deimos collection and Malin Space Science Systems' Deimos! page and its link to a Viking mission boulder-resolution image.
Sat. AM bolide E of Sacramento, 
Calif. Credit: Larry Stange/YCS.

14 August 2007

Saturday morning's bolide east of Sacramento, California at 12:05am PDT shown here as a composite from the movie caught by Larry Stange's Yuba City Sentinel all-sky camera, part of Sandia Labs' Sentinel System network. See more info here, updated late today.
Contour spacecraft fragments from Spacewatch 1.8m 
telescope. (c)Copyright 2002 UA LPL Spacewatch Proj.

15 August 2007

Five years ago today the NASA Contour mission to comet 2P/Encke fired up its kick rocket to boost out of Earth orbit and was never heard from again. The next day Spacewatch published this image from its 1.8-meter telescope, showing "two objects ... near one of the predicted positions of the Contour spacecraft" at a little more than one lunar distance from Earth and separated by about 460 km. Another piece may also have been located much further away. See A/CC's chronicle of these events. ©Copyright 2002 The Spacewatch Project, Univ. Ariz. LPL.
Phobos (left) & Deimos from MER Spirit. 
Credit NASA/JPL/Cornell/Texas A&M.

17 August 2007

A two-moon sky imaged from a truly distant robotic observatory -- the Mars rover Spirit, which shot this stack with its Panoramic Camera at 150-sec. intervals. Deimos is seen in seven positions at right while closer and larger Phobos speeds through the frame. Phobos was discovered 130 years ago today by Asaph Hall, six days after Deimos. Both are believed to be captured asteroids. Credit: NASA/ JPL/ Cornell/ Texas A&M. See more Phobos images at JPL.
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from VLT 
with trail in 2004. (c)Copyright Max Planck Inst.

21 August 2007

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko observed from ESO's 8.2-meter VLT in Chile in 2004, seen with what is believed to be a dust trail. There is more info here. ©Copyright Max Planck Institute.
Pieces of comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 
from the Spitzer Space Telescope in 2006. 
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/W. Reach. 
Annotation (c)Copyright Great Shefford Obs.

22 August 2007

Sorting out broken comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, Peter Birtwhistle has correlated ground-based astrometry with a mosaic of Spitzer Space Telescope imagery from 4-6 May 2006, rotated to horizontal perihelion order with earlier to the left. This small detail comes from the right of the second brightest piece, fragment B (not shown). See more info here. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/W. Reach. Annotation ©Copyright Great Shefford Observatory, used with permission.
25143 Itokawa observed in IR by 
Akari July 26th. Credit: JAXA

23 August 2007

25143 Itokawa observed by the Akari infrared space telescope on July 26th. See more about this here. Credit: JAXA.
243 Ida and its satellite Dactyl observed from 
Galileo on 28 Aug. 1993. Credit: NASA/JPL.

28 August 2007

On this day in 1993 the Jupiter-bound Galileo spacecraft flew past Main Belter 243 Ida and, surprise, photographed a satellite. This wasn't discovered until the imagery was downloaded five-plus months later. The satellite, now named Dactyl, orbits at about 100 km. and is around 1.5 km. in diameter -- about 1/37th the size of Ida. Credit: NASA/JPL.
Artist's concept of a toroidal pre-planetary 
disk. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt.

29 August 2007

Artist's concept of a toroidal pre-planetary disk forming around an embryonic star such as NGC 1333-IRAS 4B, which is reported today to be undergoing an ice onslaught. See more here. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt.
Pan-STARRS gigapixel camera assembly. 
Credit: IfA/Richard Wainscoat.

31 August 2007

Electronics engineer Peter Onaka (left) and astronomer John Tonry assemble the Pan-STARRS gigapixel camera. See more about this here. Credit: IfA/Richard Wainscoat.
Tiny intruder 2007 RS1 on 4 Sept. 
(c)Copyright 2007 Great Shefford Obs.

8 September 2007

From Peter Birtwhistle, this image of 2007 RS1 is "a stack of 40 four-second exposures. With the object moving at 244"/min., it appears as a trail 16" long moving toward the upper left. At the time it was at a distance of about 213,400 km., or 0.55 lunar distance (LD), on its way to passing the Earth at 0.19 LD less than six hours later." See his story here. Details: 2007 Sept. 04 20:33:57-20:38:34 UT, moving in P.A. 45.6°, north up, binned 2x2, scale 2.15"/pixel, 0.40 f/6 Schmidt-Cassegrain. ©Copyright 2007 Great Shefford Observatory.
Dawn spacecraft transport preparations. 
Credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann.

10 September 2007

Workers at Astrotech move a platform with the Dawn spacecraft in preparation for transport back to the launch pad. See news Saturday about restarting the launch campaign. Credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann.
Meteor trail in 8.2m telescoe imagery. 
(c)Copyright Subaru Telescope.

11 September 2007

Unfocussed micrometeor trail caught in a Subaru 8.2-meter telescope exposure. See links to more info and images here. ©Copyright: Subaru Telescope.
25413 Itokawa from Hayabusa on 
30 Sept. 2005. (c)Copyright JAXA.

12 September 2007

On this day in 2005, the Japanese MUSES-C Hayabusa spacecraft arrived at what the ISAS mission called the "Gate Position," 20 km. from asteroid 25413 Itokawa. On September 30th UTC, the day this image was made, Hayabusa moved to the "Home Position" at about 7 km. distance from what was found to be a "rubble pile" object. ©Copyright: JAXA.
19P/Borrelly from DS-1 on 22 Sept. 
2001. Credit: NASA/JPL.

22 September 2007

On this day six years ago, the NASA Deep Space 1 spacecraft flew past the nucleus of comet 19P/Borrelly, which, as seen in this best image, was found to be about 10 km. long. Credit: NASA/JPL.
NASA Dawn mission launch today. 
Credit: NASA/George Shelton.

27 September 2007

The NASA Dawn mission is on its way to the Main Belt, successfully launched this morning at 7:34am EDT (1134 UTC) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Spaceflight Now reports that the last stage separation occurred at 1235 UTC, completing the launch sequence. Credit: NASA/George Shelton.
Recovery of 1937 UB Hermes on 
15 Oct. 2003. Credit: LONEOS.

15 October 2007

On this day four years ago, Brian Skiff was on duty with the LONEOS 0.59-meter telescope when he captured 1937 UB Hermes, the long lost and only named unnumbered asteroid (now numbered 69230), shown traveling left to right. See Lowell Observatory's news release and a collection of A/CC reports about follow-on discoveries and news reports. Credit: LONEOS (image composited and rebalanced by A/CC).
95P/Chiron from the HST on 23 April 
1996. Credit Karen J. Meech/HST.

18 October 2007

The discovery image of the first centaur, 95P/Chiron, was made thirty years ago today by Charles Kowal with the Mt. Palomar Schmidt telescope. Designated 1977 UB and later numbered 2060, it was found in April 1989 to be cometary by Karen Meech and Michael Belton. The above picture of Chiron's inner coma was made by Meech with the Hubble Space Telescope on 23 April 1996. See Cometography for more info. Credit: Karen J. Meech/HST (image pixel-doubled by A/CC).
951 Gaspra on 29 Oct. 1991 from 
Galileo. Credit: NASA/JPL.

29 October 2007

On this day sixteen years ago, the Jupiter-bound NASA Galileo spacecraft performed the first-ever asteroid flyby, passing 951 Gaspra, which is seen here in exaggerated color. Credit: NASA/JPL.
5535 Annefranke from Stardust on 2 Nov. 2002. 
Credit: NASA/JPL with A/CC processing.

2 November 2007

On this day five years ago the Stardust spacecraft made a distant flyby of asteroid 5535 Annefrank, seen here in the two closest images which were made six seconds apart and serve as a good stereo pair. Relax your eyes and let them find focus behind the screen to bring the two dots and two images together into one. Credit: NASA/JPL with A/CC processing of unpublished imagery found archived in the NASA Planetary Data System.
2003 VB12 discovery images 
from Mt. Palomar 14 Nov. 2003

14 November 2007

On this day four years ago, 2003 VB12 was discovered by Mike Brown, Chad Trujillo, and Dale Rabinowitz using the Mt. Palomar 1.2m Oschin Telescope. This was announced the next March with this discovery imagery (see A/CC's news coverage from 15 and 16 March 2004). It is now numbered and named 90377 Sedna, the Solar System's largest known dwarf planet. Imagery courtesy of SST.
99942 Apophis radar image from Arecibo 
in Jan. 2005. Credit: Lance Benner.

15 November 2007

The best available "picture" of 99942 Apophis (2004 MN4) comes from an hour-long doppler radar session at Arecibo at midnight UTC on 28-29 January 2005 when this object was 74.7 lunar distances (0.192 AU) from Earth. A new paper by Jon Giorgini, et al. has been posted at JPL, "Predicting the Earth encounters of (99942) Apophis" (1.36Mb PDF). It explains how "Arecibo delay-Doppler measurements of (99942) Apophis in 2005 and 2006 resulted in a five standard-deviation trajectory correction to the optically predicted close approach distance to Earth in 2029," and goes on to consider all the uncertainties involved in studying the "small estimated Earth impact probability" that remains for 2036. The report includes looking for encounters with other asteroids (e.g., Apophis comes close to 144898 2004 VD17 in 2034), how to best conduct pre-2029 observations (radar is vital), and, briefly, mitigation possibilities. The paper concludes that, if a deflection effort becomes necessary, it "must be capable of producing a change in position substantially greater than the predicted position uncertainties at the time of the hazardous encounter [otherwise it] would instead create an unpredicted outcome or a new hazard." See JPL's summary and more about the above image, which is credited to Lance Benner.
17P/Holmes on 1 Nov. 
2007 by Alan Dyer.

16 November 2007

Comet 17P/Holmes imaged on November 1st by astrophotographer Alan Dyer in Alberta, Canada. For more about what's been going on with this comet, which exploded on October 23rd and has become naked-eye visible, see ESA's news release and images posted by NASA from Dyer and the Hubble Space Telescope.
PI Mark Boslough explaining the Tunguska fireball. 
Photo by Randy Montoya, courtesy Sandia Natl. Labs.

19 December 2007

Quote: "The stunning amount of forest devastation at Tunguska a century ago in Siberia may have been caused by an asteroid only a fraction as large as previously published estimates, Sandia National Laboratories supercomputer simulations suggest." Principal investigator Mark Boslough is shown explaining a fireball simulation. Photo by Randy Montoya, courtesy of Sandia National Labs, which has more info and movies.
Possible locations of 2007 WD5 relative to Mars 
on 30 Jan. 2008. Illustration courtesy of JPL.

22 December 2007

Small asteroid 2007 WD5 will pass through the orbit of Mars on January 30th and JPL announced yesterday a 1-in-75 chance that Mars may be in the same spot, taking a three-megaton hit. This illustration, courtesy of JPL, shows points relative to Mars that 2007 WD5 might occupy based on variant orbit solutions from observations spanning only 29 days. See news releases from NASA/JPL, JPL's NEO Program Office, the University of Arizona, and New Mexico Tech.
Possible locations of 2007 WD5 relative to Mars on 30 Jan. 
2008. This NASA/JPL illustration is from Dec. 21st.

29 December 2007

According to the NASA/JPL NEO Program Office yesterday, "Pre-discovery observations of asteroid 2007 WD5, taken on November 8, 2007 [and found by Andy Puckett in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey archive] have allowed its orbit to be refined... The impact probability resulting ... has increased to a surprising 3.9% (about 1 in 25 odds)." See full info, the December 23rd DOU MPEC, and earlier news links, which included this JPL illustration.

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