Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

First Close-Up Mug Shots Of Asteroid 253 Mathilde

Date:
December 22, 1997
Source:
Cornell University
Summary:
So many craters, so little asteroid. Cornell University astronomer Joseph Veverka and a team of scientists are releasing the first close-up images of a little-known C-class asteroid, 253 Mathilde.

Related Articles


ITHACA, N.Y. -- So many craters, so little asteroid.

Cornell University astronomer Joseph Veverka and a team of scientists arereleasing the first close-up images of a little-known C-class asteroid, 253Mathilde, to be published exclusively in the journal "Science" (Dec. 19).Until now, astronomers have been able to do little but gaze throughtelescopes and observe the minor planet, discovered 112 years ago. On June27 of this year, the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) spacecraftpassed within 1,212 kilometers of Mathilde and took images of the asteroid.Scientists didn't expect to find the minor planet so densely pocked withcraters and so porous, as it is made mostly of carbonaceous chondrite.

"Mathilde is very porous, and we still don't know if it was formed that wayoriginally," said Veverka. "This is the first time anyone has ever lookedat an asteroid like this and we were surprised at how 'underdense' it is onthe inside."

After reviewing 534 frames of images taken with a variety of equipmentduring the close flyby in June, scientists were surprised to find so manylarge craters packed so tightly on the relatively small surface ofMathilde. This means that large objects have been able to strike theasteroid's surface without destroying it, Veverka said. "Hitting Mathildeis like hitting a Styrofoam cup or packing material," he said.

"Even more remarkable than the simple existence of these large craters isthe degree to which their rim crests and basic shapes seem minimallyaffected by subsequent large impacts," scientists write in the articledescribing the images, "NEAR's flyby of Mathilde: Images of a C Asteroid."The article's authors include Veverka and Cornell scientists Peter Thomas,senior research associate; Ann Harch, research support specialist; BethClark, research associate; James F. Bell III, senior research associate;Brian Carcich, systems programmer, and Jonathan Joseph, programmer, all inthe astronomy department. In addition to the Cornell members of the NEARteam, astronomers from the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colo.;Northwestern University; Space Science Systems, San Diego, Calif.; theUniversity of Maryland, College Park; and Johns Hopkins University'sApplied Physics Laboratory participated in the image analysis and thewriting of the paper.

Currently, the NEAR spacecraft is on its way to the S-class asteroid 433,named Eros. Enroute to Eros, NEAR flew by Mathilde on June 27 to gatherinformation. At a flyby speed of 9.93 kilometers a second, the spacecraftspent about 25 minutes relatively close to the asteroid. During its closestapproach, the spacecraft took 144 high-resolution images of the minorplanet's irregular shape and heavily cratered surface.

The slow-rotating Mathilde resides in the asteroid belt, which containsthousands of minor planets between Mars and Jupiter. At the time theimages were taken, Mathilde was approximately 203 million miles from Earth.Mathilde rotates once every 17.4 days; only two other known asteroidsrotate more slowly: 288 Glauke and 1220 Crocus.

"That's one of the other mysteries of Mathilde," said Veverka . "It is sosluggish and we still don't know why."

Launched aboard a Delta II rocket on Feb. 17, 1996, the NEAR spacecraftmission cost NASA about $122 million and is the first of NASA's DiscoveryMissions, which include a series of small-scale spacecraft designed toproceed from development to flight in under three years for a cost of lessthan $150 million each. In February 1999, the spacecraft will rendezvouswith Eros and orbit that minor planet for about a year.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cornell University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cornell University. "First Close-Up Mug Shots Of Asteroid 253 Mathilde." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 December 1997. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/12/971222045043.htm>.
Cornell University. (1997, December 22). First Close-Up Mug Shots Of Asteroid 253 Mathilde. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/12/971222045043.htm
Cornell University. "First Close-Up Mug Shots Of Asteroid 253 Mathilde." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/12/971222045043.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) An invisible barrier is keeping dangerous super fast electrons from interfering with our atmosphere, but scientists aren't entirely sure how. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) The International Space Station is now using a proof-of-concept 3D printer to test additive printing in a weightless, isolated environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soyuz Spacecraft Docks With International Space Station: NASA

Soyuz Spacecraft Docks With International Space Station: NASA

AFP (Nov. 24, 2014) A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying Italy's first female astronaut safely docks with the International Space Station, according to NASA. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins