Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

Arecibo Observatory Spies An Asteroid Close To The Sun

This radar image of asteroid 3200 Phaethon is the sum of two obtained at the Arecibo Observatory on Dec 8,2007. Source: Arecibo/Cornell.
by Staff Writers
Ithaca NY (SPX) Jan 02, 2008
The paint is dry and it's time for science: After receiving its first fresh, full coat of paint in more than 40 years, Cornell University's Arecibo Observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico - the scientific actor with a title role in the James Bond film "Goldeneye" - made its first observation in more than six-months at 6:36 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, 2007. The Arecibo telescope spied an asteroid called 3200 Phaethon.

The asteroid - if it is one - travels close to the sun. But here's the catch: Astronomers suspect that Phaethon may actually be a comet and a possible parent of the Geminid meteor shower, which annually causes many streams of shooting stars between now and Christmas.

Phaethon and other asteroids that have trajectories strongly affected by sunlight, sun shape and general relativity effects are being studied by Jean-Luc Margot, Cornell assistant professor of astronomy and Jon Giorgini, of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.. Mike Nolan, an Arecibo staff scientist, conducted the observation.

Asteroid orbits are influenced by the absorption and reemission of solar energy - or the so-called Yarkovsky effect.

These changes to the asteroidal motion will be quantified with the Arecibo radar measurements to understand the properties of near-Earth asteroids. This is one of dozens of projects now underway at the observatory.

Paintbrushes down: The six-month project - the first time the Arecibo platform and focal-point structure had received a thorough painting - ended in November of this year. Since then a skeletal crew of observatory staff worked around the clock to bring the radio telescope and the planetary radar back to astronomical life.

Now, the observatory is fully functional, as all motion, electronic, transmitting and receiving, and computing systems are operating.

"It is ready to return to the task of carrying out the scientific observations for the many thousands of hours of approved research programs that will keep the telescope very busy for the next several years," said Robert Brown, director of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, a national research center operated by under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.

As part of Arecibo's history, the observatory detected the first pulsar in a binary system in 1974, which lead to confirmation of Einstein's theory of general relativity and a Nobel Prize for astronomers Russell Hulse and Joseph Taylor in 1993.

Also, Arecibo has provided Hollywood filmmakers with a unique backdrop, as it was featured in the James Bond film "Goldeneye" and in the film "Contact," which was based on a novel by the late Cornell astronomy professor Carl Sagan.

Email This Article
Comment On This Article

Related Links
Arecibo Observatory
Asteroid and Comet Mission News, Science and Technology

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Asteroid nears Mars at 8 miles per second
St. Petersburg, Russia (UPI) Dec 22, 2007
An asteroid on a likely collision course with Mars could give scientists a look at what lies beneath the surface of the red planet.

  • Russia sees end of road for space tourism
  • MIT seeks funding for elastic spacesuit
  • SPACEHAB Announces Successful ARCTUS Mid-Air Recovery Test
  • Final Preparations For First Human-Rated Spacecraft To Be Launched From Europe's Spaceport

  • Mars Rovers Find Evidence Of Habitable Niche As Perilous Third Winter Approaches
  • Global Map Reveals Mineral Distribution On Mars
  • How Mars Could Have Been Warm And Wet But Limestone-Free
  • Catalina Sky Survey Rocks Mars With New Asteroid Discovery

  • Ariane 5 Wraps Up 2007 With Its Sixth Dual-Satellite Launch
  • Ariane 5 rockets puts Africa's first satellite into space
  • Sixth Ariane 5 Mission Of 2007 Set For December 20 Launch
  • Lightning Protection For The Next Generation Spacecraft

  • Outside View: Arctic satellite balance
  • Lockheed Martin Awarded Contract For GOES-R Geostationary Lightning Mapper
  • ASU Researchers Use NASA Satellites To Improve Pollution Modeling
  • Study Shows Urban Sprawl Continues To Gobble Up Land

  • The PI's Perspective: Autumn 2007: Onward to the Kuiper Belt
  • Data For The Next Generations
  • Goddard Instrument Makes Cover Of Science
  • Checking Out New Horizons

  • Anatomy Of A Cosmic Bird Reveals A Triple Cosmic Collision
  • XMM-Newton Detects Pulsed Heartbeat Of A Weird New Type Of Star
  • Suzaku Explains Cosmic Powerhouses
  • 10,000 Earths Worth Of Fresh Dust Found Near Star Explosion

  • Lockheed Martin Spacecraft To Be Flown For NASA's Grail Lunar Mission
  • Major lunar probe begins full operation: Japan
  • India And Russia Begin Talks On Chandrayaan-II
  • India installs antennas for planned moon mission: official

  • Putin wants satnav collar for dog: agency
  • Modernized GPS Satellite Built By Lockheed Martin Launched From Cape Canaveral
  • Two Years In Space For Galileo Satellite
  • Lockheed Martin-Built GPS Satellite Poised For Liftoff From Cape Canaveral Launch Pad

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2007 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement