Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Astronomers Prepare To Obtain Close Images Of A Near-Earth Asteroid

Date:
January 27, 2008
Source:
Cornell University
Summary:
Astronomers will observe a newly discovered asteroid on Jan. 27-28 and Feb 1-4, 2008, as the object called 2007 TU24 passes within 1.4 lunar distances, or 334,000 miles, from Earth. The asteroid, estimated at between 150 and 600 meters in diameter -- about 500 feet to 1,900 feet, or the size of a football field, at 360 feet, to the size of Chicago's 110-story Sears Tower, at 1,454 feet -- was discovered in October 2007. It poses no threat to Earth, but its near approach gives astronomers a golden opportunity to learn more about potentially hazardous near-Earth objects.

The Arecibo Observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico will observe a newly discovered asteroid on Jan. 27-28, as the object called 2007 TU24 passes within 1.4 lunar distances, or 334,000 miles, from Earth.

The asteroid, estimated at between 150 and 600 meters in diameter -- about 500 feet to 1,900 feet, or the size of a football field, at 360 feet, to the size of Chicago's 110-story Sears Tower, at 1,454 feet -- was discovered by the University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey in October 2007. It poses no threat to Earth, but its near approach gives Arecibo astronomers a golden opportunity to learn more about potentially hazardous near-Earth objects.

"We don't yet know anything about this asteroid," said Mike Nolan, head of radar astronomy at the Puerto Rico observatory. Such objects pass near Earth with relative frequency, he said -- approximately one every five years or so -- but it's rare that astronomers have enough advance notice to plan for rigorous observing.

"Because it's coming so close, we'll get our highest quality imaging," said Nolan.

Using Arecibo's powerful radar, which is the most sensitive in the world, researchers will gauge the object's size, observe its speed and measure its spin. Switching then to imaging mode, which will offer resolution to 7.5 meters -- three times more precise than NASA's Goldstone telescope, the only other radar telescope in the world -- the researchers hope to map the object's surface in detail. The Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, Green Bank, W.Va., will receive Arecibo's echo from the asteroid and transmit its data back to Arecibo.

TU2 is one of an estimated 7,000 near-Earth objects, its size or larger -- most have never been closely studied.

"We have good images of a couple dozen objects like this, and for about one in 10, we see something we've never seen before," said Nolan. "We really haven't sampled the population enough to know what's out there."

Arecibo's radar is vital for continuing to classify and understand such objects, said Cornell University assistant professor of astronomy Jean-Luc Margot. "Arecibo does a fantastic job at getting images, discovering the shape, spin and reflection properties of such an object . . . all these things that are important to know."

The telescope will be trained on TU24 Jan. 27-28 and again Feb. 1-4. Goldstone's planetary radar observed it Jan. 23-24.

Steven Ostro, astronomer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., is principal investigator for the project; also contributing are Lance Benner and Jon Giorgini at JPL and Greg Black of the University of Virginia. Their research is funded by NASA.

The Arecibo Observatory is part of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, a national research center operated by Cornell for the National Science Foundation. The Green Bank Telescope is operated by National Radio Astronomy Observatory for the National Science Foundation.


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. "Astronomers Prepare To Obtain Close Images Of A Near-Earth Asteroid." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080125102156.htm>.
Cornell University. (2008, January 27). Astronomers Prepare To Obtain Close Images Of A Near-Earth Asteroid. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080125102156.htm
Cornell University. "Astronomers Prepare To Obtain Close Images Of A Near-Earth Asteroid." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080125102156.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, July 25, 2014

This Week @ NASA, July 25, 2014

NASA (July 25, 2014) Apollo 11 celebration, Next Giant Leap anticipation, ISS astronauts appear in the House and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space to Ground: Coming and Going

Space to Ground: Coming and Going

NASA (July 25, 2014) One station cargo ship leaves, another arrives, aquatic research and commercial spinoffs. Questions or comments? Use #spacetoground to talk to us. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
How A Solar Flare Could Have Wrecked Earth's Electronics

How A Solar Flare Could Have Wrecked Earth's Electronics

Newsy (July 25, 2014) Researchers say if Earth had been a week earlier in its orbit around the sun, it would have taken a direct hit from a 2012 coronal mass ejection. 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:
from the past week

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