Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Large Asteroid Will Zoom Safely Past Earth

Date:
September 29, 2004
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
Although asteroid 4179 Toutatis will come no closer than four times the distance between Earth and the Moon (approximately 1.5 million kilometers or 961,000 miles), this will be the closest approach of any known asteroid of comparable size this century.

Artist's concept of asteroid 4179 Toutatis, which will come no closer than four times the distance between Earth and the Moon.
Credit: Image courtesy of NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory

A mountain-sized asteroid will make its closest approach to Earth at 6:35 a.m. Pacific Time (9:35 a.m. Eastern Time) September 29, 2004.

Although asteroid 4179 Toutatis will come no closer than four times the distance between Earth and the Moon (approximately 1.5 million kilometers or 961,000 miles), this will be the closest approach of any known asteroid of comparable size this century.

"This is the closest Toutatis will come for another 500 years, and its orbit is very well known," said Dr. Don Yeomans of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manager of NASA's Near Earth Objects Program Office. "What this fly-by provides is an opportunity to study one of our closest solar system neighbors."

"While we have done radar observations on this particular asteroid before, this is the closest it has come since at least the twelfth century," said Dr. Steve Ostro, a scientist at JPL. "We will use the huge dish in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, to refine our knowledge of its physical characteristics and its trajectory."

Named after an obscure Celtic and Gallic god, Toutatis is a yam-shaped space rock that measures 1.92 kilometers (1.2 miles) by 2.29 kilometers (1.4 miles) by 4.6 kilometers (2.9 miles). Toutatis has one of the strangest rotation states observed in the solar system. Instead of spinning around a single axis, as do the planets and the vast majority of asteroids, it "tumbles" somewhat like a football after a botched pass. Its rotation is the result of two different types of motion with periods of 5.4 and 7.3 Earth days, which combine in such a way that Toutatis's orientation, with respect to the solar system, never repeats.

When the asteroid flies past Earth, it will be traveling at approximately 39,600 kilometers per hour (24,550 miles per hour). Toutatis will not be this close again until 2562. It was discovered in 1989.

Arecibo Observatory is operated by Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation, with support from NASA.

To view a computer model of asteroid Toutatis on the Internet, visit http://reason.jpl.nasa.gov/~ostro/ToutatisHires.mov and http://reason.jpl.nasa.gov/~ostro/ToutatisHires.avi.

For more information about near Earth objects on the Internet, visit http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/. For information about NASA on the Internet, visit http://www.nasa.gov.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Large Asteroid Will Zoom Safely Past Earth." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 September 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040929105022.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2004, September 29). Large Asteroid Will Zoom Safely Past Earth. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040929105022.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Large Asteroid Will Zoom Safely Past Earth." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040929105022.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) A comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system passed extremely close to Mars this weekend, giving astronomers a rare opportunity to study it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) Argentina launches a home-built satellite, a first for Latin America. It will ride a French-made Ariane 5 rocket into orbit, and will provide cell phone, digital TV, Internet and data services to the lower half of South America. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

NASA (Oct. 17, 2014) Power spacewalk, MAVEN’s “First Light”, Hubble finds extremely distant galaxy and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon Might Have A Hidden Ocean

Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon Might Have A Hidden Ocean

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) The smallest of Saturn's main moons, Mimas, wobbles as it orbits. Research reveals it might be due to a global ocean underneath its icy surface. Video provided by Newsy
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