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.)
On January 2nd (Pacific Time) the NASA/JPL NEO Program Office reported that Magdalena Ridge "observations for asteroid 2007 WD5 taken on December 29 through January 2 have been used to improve the accuracy of the asteroid's orbit ... causing the Mars impact probability to decrease slightly to 3.6% (about one chance in 28)." See the DOU MPECs for January 1st and today plus earlier news links here and here. This NASA/JPL illustration of positional possibilities is from Dec. 21st.
The NASA/JPL NEO Program Office reported yesterday that with further analysis, including new observation from Calar Alto Observatory (see yesterday's DOU MPEC), Mars impact probability has decreased to "1-in-40 odds" for 2007 WD5 three weeks from now. See the NEOPO's Asteroid 2007 WD5 page and A/CC has more news links here. Further observation has been reported today. The above NASA/JPL illustration of positional possibilities is from Dec. 21st.
The NASA/JPL NEO Program Office reported very early today (still the 9th local time) that 2007 WD5's impact probability had dropped to "1 in 10,000 odds, effectively ruling out the possible collision with Mars." The report includes observing credits, such as the team in Hawaii that provided this image of the distant tiny asteroid (Tholen, Bernardi, Micheli with support from the NSF). Also see more news links yesterday.
These radar images come from Goldstone's 70-meter dish catching 2007 TU24 when it was just over eleven lunar distances (LD) away on January 24th. At 0834 UTC tomorrow it will pass Earth at 1.44 LD, observable in backyard telescopes. JPL describes 2007 TU24 as "somewhat asymmetrical in shape, with a diameter [of] roughly 250 meters." See A/CC's 2007 TU24 links for more info. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.
On January 28th Arecibo bounced signals off of 2007 TU24 to be received at Green Bank to obtain this image when the asteroid was coming inside of three lunar distances of Earth and closer. Further observation from Arecibo is planned during 1-4 February. See A/CC's 2007 TU24 links for more info. Credit: NASA.
The temporary natural Earth satellite previously known by its discovery designation, 6R10DB9, was today officially designated 2006 RH120 in MPEC 2008-D12 (see here) with an orbit solution credited to Paul Chodas at JPL. This copyrighted imagery is from Great Shefford Observatory from June 15th of last year, a week before the tiny asteroid was last tracked optically and shortly after it was observed by radar. See links for more info.
This image from 10:59pm EST on March 5th (0359 UTC) comes from a network of all-sky cameras that caught this fireball for the University of Western Ontario Physics and Astronomy Department. It's expected that one or more meteorites survived in the Parry Sound area from this event. See more info. Credit: UWO.
Earth has had an unknown traveling companion since December. Initially hidden in the daytime sky, 2008 EA9 slowly passed to Earth's outside and into our night, where the Mt. Lemmon Survey caught it early last Thursday (see today's MPEC 2008-E79 here). It is calculated to have been within ten lunar distances (LD) of Earth from Dec. 28th until yesterday, coming to 0.6 LD from the Moon on Feb. 4th and 1.6 LD from Earth the day before. This illustration is an A/CC composite from JPL's Orbit Viewer.
Tiny 2008 EF32 came from sunward and flew through the Earth-Moon system, passing the Moon Sunday at one-quarter lunar distance (LD) and whipping past Earth yesterday at a distance presently calculated at 0.17 LD. Estimated to be roughly four meters wide, it was first noticed at 0838 UTC this morning by the Mt. Lemmon Survey. See today's MPEC 2008-E91 here. This A/CC illustration depicts the sky at 0000 UTC yesterday.
There is today one asteroid, the unobserved 2003 FY6, predicted to be within ten lunar distances (LD) of Earth. No others are known to be approaching until early July, but you can expect there to be many, hidden by the bright Moon, or too dim or fast to be caught, or passing outside the areas surveyed most. A/CC's new Timeline page for Earth's Busy Neighborhood shows an average of eighteen objects per month were known to have passed within ten LD since October.
Please check out A/CC's new multipage version of Timeline & Statistics for Earth's Busy Neighborhood. The previous version had grown into a 127Kb file even without adding discovery, last-observation, and closest approach times and without expanding the timeline backwards. This new version adds all those details plus a chart (excerpt shown) and tables with null-activity periods, Earth and lunar closest approaches, and credit for those who most often catch the last observation of objects.
It was announced June 26th that "Canada is building the world's first space telescope designed to detect and track asteroids as well as satellites." Beginning in 2010, Canada's NESS (Near Earth Space Surveillance) asteroid search program plans to use the NEOSSat microsatellite's 0.15-meter telescope "to detect asteroids delivering as few as 50 photons of light in a 100-second exposure," and to look "along Earth's orbit [to] find 'low and slow' asteroids." Image credit: NEOSSat.
Amateur observer Rob Matson's 76th SOHO comet discovery on June 25th has been announced as the 1,500th comet discovered with the solar physics spacecraft. See news at SOHO and ESA. Image credit: SOHO.
JPL is reporting that "an atmospheric impact will very likely occur during early morning twilight over northern Sudan, north-eastern Africa, at 2:46 UT Tuesday morning" for the newly discovered (see here) tiny asteroid 2008 TC3. This A/CC sky graphic shows 2008 TC3's location two and three-quarter hours before the event as seen geocentrically, although, due its closeness to Earth, its sky location would appear very differently depending on your actual location. See news links here.
SpaceWeather.com is reporting from the University of Western Ontario that a Kenyan infrasound array picked up a 1.1- to 2.1-kiloton explosion over northeastern Africa at 0243 UTC today. JPL reported yesterday that "an atmospheric impact" was very likely to occur over northern Sudan by newly discovered tiny asteroid 2008 TC3 (see discovery MPEC yesterday). This A/CC graphic shows 2008 TC3 two and three-quarter hours before the event in a geocentric view, although, due its closeness to Earth, 2008 TC3's place in the sky would have appeared very differently depending on ones actual geographic location. We have news links here.
Magdalena Ridge Observatory (MRO) in central New Mexico on Nov. 8th. This facility's fast-slewing 2.4-meter telescope (fast enough to track low-orbit satellites and nearby rocket launches) recently "moved from construction phase to operational phase" and is now "open for business." Its near-Earth object discovery follow-up work received NASA funding earlier this year. Photo by BA/Columbine.