Archive for the ‘Asteroid’ Category

Asteroid 2012 DA14 through the Earth-moon system on Feb. 15, 2013

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

Source – NASA /JPL Asteroid and Comet Watch:

Visit http://science.nasa.gov/ for breaking science news. On Feb. 15th an asteroid about half the size of a football field will fly past Earth closer than many man-made satellites. Since regular sky surveys began in the 1990s, astronomers have never seen an object so big come so close to our planet.


Diagram depicting the passage of asteroid 2012 DA14 through the Earth-moon system on Feb. 15, 2013. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech › Larger view

NASA a live video/audio feed of the Perseid shower

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

Source – NASA Chat: Stay ‘Up All Night’ to Watch the Perseids:

A live video/audio feed of the Perseid shower is embedded below. The camera is mounted at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. During daylight, you’ll see a dark gray box — the camera is light-activated and will turn on at dusk. At night you’ll see white points, or stars, on a black background.



Live stream by Ustream

About the Perseids

The Perseids have been observed for at least 2,000 years and are associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun once every 133 years. Each year in August, the Earth passes through a cloud of the comet’s debris. These bits of ice and dust — most over 1,000 years old — burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere to create one of the best meteor showers of the year. The Perseids can be seen all over the sky, but the best viewing opportunities will be across the northern hemisphere. Those with sharp eyes will see that the meteors radiate from the direction of the constellation Perseus.

More About the Chat Experts

Bill Cooke
Danielle Moser
Rhiannon Blaauw

Janet Anderson, 256-544-0034
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
Janet.L.Anderson@nasa.gov

Newly Discovered Large Asteroid Passes by Earth

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Source – Slooh Space Camera:

During its closest approach at 8 p.m. ET Thursday Slooh will attempt to track newly discovered near-Earth Asteroid 2012 LZ1 as it makes its close approach to Earth. 2012 LZ1 is over 1,600 feet (500-meter) wide about the size of a city block and about 14 Moon (3.3 million miles or 5.3 million kilometers) distances from Earth. The asteroid was never close enough to threaten Earth

Asteroid 2005 YU55 to Approach Earth on November 8, 2011

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

Source – NASA Near Earth Object Program (NEO):

Don Yeomans, Lance Benner and Jon Giorgini
March 10, 2011

Path of Astroid 2005 YU55

Trajectory of Asteroid 2005 YU55 - November 8-9, 2011
Click on image for animation

Near-Earth asteroid 2005 YU55 will pass within 0.85 lunar distances from the Earth on November 8, 2011. The upcoming close approach by this relatively large 400 meter-sized, C-type asteroid presents an excellent opportunity for synergistic ground-based observations including optical, near infrared and radar data. The attached animated illustration shows the Earth and moon flyby geometry for November 8th and 9th when the object will reach a visual brightness of 11th magnitude and should be easily visible to observers in the northern and southern hemispheres. The closest approach to Earth and the Moon will be respectively 0.00217 AU and 0.00160 AU on 2011 November 8 at 23:28 and November 9 at 07:13 UT.

Discovered December 28, 2005 by Robert McMillan of the Spacewatch Program near Tucson Arizona, the object has been previously observed by Mike Nolan, Ellen Howell and colleagues with the Arecibo radar on April 19-21, 2010 and shown to be a very dark, nearly spherical object 400 meters in diameter. Because of its approximate 20-hour rotation period, ideal radar observations should include tracks that are 8 hours or longer on multiple dates at Goldstone (November 3-11) and when the object enters Arecibo’s observing window on November 8th.

Using the Goldstone radar operating in a relatively new “chirp” mode, the November 2011 radar opportunity could result in a shape model reconstruction with a resolution of as fine as 4 meters. Several days of high resolution imaging (about 7.5 meters) are also planned at Arecibo. As well as aiding the interpretation of the radar observations, collaborative visual and near infrared observations could define the object’s rotation characteristics and provide constraints upon the nature of the object’s surface roughness and mineral composition.

Since the asteroid will approach the Earth from the sunward direction, it will be a daylight object until the time of closest approach. The best time for new ground-based optical and infrared observations will be late in the day on November 8, after 21:00 hours UT from the eastern Atlantic and western Africa zone. A few hours after its close Earth approach, it will become generally accessible for optical and near-IR observations but will provide a challenging target because of its rapid motion across the sky.

Side View

Trajectory of Asteroid 2005 YU55 - November 9, 2011

Although classified as a potentially hazardous object, 2005 YU55 poses no threat of an Earth collision over at least the next 100 years. However, this will be the closest approach to date by an object this large that we know about in advance and an event of this type will not happen again until 2028 when asteroid (153814) 2001 WN5 will pass to within 0.6 lunar distances.

Vesta Sizes Up

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Source – NASA/JPL Dawn Journey to the Asteroid Belt :

This composite image shows the comparative sizes of nine asteroids. Up until now, Lutetia, with a diameter of 81 miles (130 kilometers), was the largest asteroid visited by a spacecraft, which occurred during a flyby.

Vesta, which is also considered a protoplanet because it’s a large body that almost became a planet, dwarfs all other small bodies in this image, with its diameter sizing up at approximately 330 miles (530 kilometers).

The Dawn mission is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate’s Discovery Program, managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., designed and built the Dawn spacecraft. The framing cameras were developed and built under the leadership of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin made significant contributions in coordination with the Institute of Computer and Communication Network Engineering in Braunschweig. The framing camera project is funded by the Max Planck Society, DLR and NASA. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

More information about Dawn is online at http://www.nasa.gov/dawn and http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov

NASA Spacecraft to Enter Asteroid’s Orbit on July 15

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

NASA's Dawn spacecraft obtained this image of the giant asteroid Vesta with its framing camera on July 9, 2011. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

NASA/JPL Dawn Journey to the Asteroid Belt :

PASADENA, Calif. — On July 15, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will begin a prolonged encounter with the asteroid Vesta, making the mission the first to enter orbit around a main-belt asteroid.

The main asteroid belt lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Dawn will study Vesta for one year, and observations will help scientists understand the earliest chapter of our solar system’s history.

As the spacecraft approaches Vesta, surface details are coming into focus, as seen in a recent image taken from a distance of about 26,000 miles (41,000 kilometers). The image is available at:
Source –

Engineers expect the spacecraft to be captured into orbit at approximately 10 p.m. PDT Friday, July 15 (1 a.m. EDT Saturday, July 16). They expect to hear from the spacecraft and confirm that it performed as planned during a scheduled communications pass that starts at approximately 11:30 p.m. PDT on Saturday, July 16 (2:30 a.m. EDT Sunday, July 17). When Vesta captures Dawn into its orbit, engineers estimate there will be approximately 9,900 miles (16,000 kilometers) between them. At that point, the spacecraft and asteroid will be approximately 117 million miles (188 million kilometers) from Earth.

“It has taken nearly four years to get to this point,” said Robert Mase, Dawn project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “Our latest tests and check-outs show that Dawn is right on target and performing normally.”

Engineers have been subtly shaping Dawn’s trajectory for years to match Vesta’s orbit around the sun. Unlike other missions, where dramatic propulsive burns put spacecraft into orbit around a planet, Dawn will ease up next to Vesta. Then the asteroid’s gravity will capture the spacecraft into orbit. However, until Dawn nears Vesta and makes accurate measurements, the asteroid’s mass and gravity will only be estimates. So the Dawn team will need a few days to refine the exact moment of orbit capture.

Launched in September 2007, Dawn will depart for its second destination, the dwarf planet Ceres, in July 2012. The spacecraft will be the first to orbit two solar system destinations beyond Earth.

Dawn’s mission to Vesta and Ceres is managed by JPL for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate’s Discovery Program, which is managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, the Italian Space Agency and the Italian National Astrophysical Institute are part of the mission team.

For a current image of Vesta and more information about the Dawn mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/dawn and http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov .You also can follow the mission on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/nasa_dawn .

Priscilla Vega/Jia-Rui Cook 626-298-3290/818-354-0850
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
priscilla.r.vega@jpl.nasa.gov / jccook@jpl.nasa.gov

Dwayne C. Brown 202-358-1726
NASA Headquarters, Washington
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

Small Asteroid to Whip Past Earth on June 27, 2011

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Source – NASA/JPL Near-Earth Objects Program:

Don Yeomans & Paul Chodas
NASA/JPL Near-Earth Object Program Office
June 23, 2011
Updated: June 26, 2011

Trajectory of 2011 MD projected onto the Earth's orbital plane. Note from this viewing angle, the asteroid passes underneath the Earth.

Trajectory of 2011 MD from the general direction of the Sun.

Near-Earth asteroid 2011 MD will pass only 12,300 kilometers (7,600 miles) above the Earth’s surface on Monday June 27 at about 1:00 PM EDT. The asteroid was discovered by the LINEAR near-Earth object discovery team observing from Socorro, New Mexico. The diagram on the left shows the trajectory of 2011 MD projected onto the Earth’s orbital plane over a four-day interval. The diagram on the left gives another view from the general direction of the Sun that indicates that 2011 MD will reach its closest Earth approach point in extreme southern latitudes (in fact over the southern Atlantic Ocean). This small asteroid, only 5-20 meters in diameter, is in a very Earth-like orbit about the Sun, but an orbital analysis indicates there is no chance it will actually strike Earth on Monday. The incoming trajectory leg passes several thousand kilometers outside the geosynchronous ring of satellites and the outgoing leg passes well inside the ring. One would expect an object of this size to come this close to Earth about every 6 years on average. For a brief time, it will be bright enough to be seen even with a modest-sized telescope.

Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse 12/21/2010

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Solstice Lunar Eclipse 12-21-10

This is the first time since nearly 400 years ago during the time of Galileo a lunar eclipse has taken place on the winter solstice, this was a rear event to been seen. The next visible total lunar eclipse in the United States will not happen until April 15, 2014

ASTEROID FLYBY: Tuesday

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Source – Space Weather News for Monday, Oct. 11, 2010: http://spaceweather.com

Newly-discovered asteroid 2010 TD54 will fly by Earth on Tuesday, Oct. 12th, about 46,000 km above the planet’s surface. At closest approach, the 7-meter space rock will shine like a 14th magnitude star as it races through the constellations Pisces and Aquarius. Advanced amateur astronomers can track the flight of 2010 TD54 using this ephemeris. There is no danger of a collision.