Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. 24/7 Space News .




IRON AND ICE
Asteroid 1998 QE2 To Sail Past Earth Nine Times Larger Than Cruise Ship
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) May 16, 2013


The orbit of asteroid 1998 QE2. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

On May 31, 2013, asteroid 1998 QE2 will sail serenely past Earth, getting no closer than about 3.6 million miles (5.8 million kilometers), or about 15 times the distance between Earth and the moon. And while QE2 is not of much interest to those astronomers and scientists on the lookout for hazardous asteroids, it is of interest to those who dabble in radar astronomy and have a 230-foot (70-meter) - or larger - radar telescope at their disposal.

"Asteroid 1998 QE2 will be an outstanding radar imaging target at Goldstone and Arecibo and we expect to obtain a series of high-resolution images that could reveal a wealth of surface features," said radar astronomer Lance Benner, the principal investigator for the Goldstone radar observations from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

"Whenever an asteroid approaches this closely, it provides an important scientific opportunity to study it in detail to understand its size, shape, rotation, surface features, and what they can tell us about its origin. We will also use new radar measurements of the asteroid's distance and velocity to improve our calculation of its orbit and compute its motion farther into the future than we could otherwise."

The closest approach of the asteroid occurs on May 31 at 1:59 p.m. Pacific (4:59 p.m. Eastern / 20:59 UTC). This is the closest approach the asteroid will make to Earth for at least the next two centuries. Asteroid 1998 QE2 was discovered on Aug. 19, 1998, by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program near Socorro, New Mexico.

The asteroid, which is believed to be about 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) or nine Queen Elizabeth 2 ship-lengths in size, is not named after that 12-decked, transatlantic-crossing flagship for the Cunard Line.

Instead, the name is assigned by the NASA-supported Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., which gives each newly discovered asteroid a provisional designation starting with the year of first detection, along with an alphanumeric code indicating the half-month it was discovered, and the sequence within that half-month.

Radar images from the Goldstone antenna could resolve features on the asteroid as small as 12 feet (3.75 meters) across, even from 4 million miles away.

"It is tremendously exciting to see detailed images of this asteroid for the first time," said Benner. "With radar we can transform an object from a point of light into a small world with its own unique set of characteristics. In a real sense, radar imaging of near-Earth asteroids is a fundamental form of exploring a whole class of solar system objects."

Asteroids, which are always exposed to the Sun, can be shaped like almost anything under it. Those previously imaged by radar and spacecraft have looked like dog bones, bowling pins, spheroids, diamonds, muffins, and potatoes.

To find out what 1998 QE2 looks like, stay tuned. Between May 30 and June 9, radar astronomers using NASA's 230-foot-wide (70 meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif., and the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, are planning an extensive campaign of observations.

The two telescopes have complementary imaging capabilities that will enable astronomers to learn as much as possible about the asteroid during its brief visit near Earth.

NASA places a high priority on tracking asteroids and protecting our home planet from them. In fact, the U.S. has the most robust and productive survey and detection program for discovering near-Earth objects. To date, U.S. assets have discovered over 98 percent of the known NEOs.

In 2012, the NEO budget was increased from $6 million to $20 million. Literally dozens of people are involved with some aspect of near-Earth object (NEO) research across NASA and its centers.

Moreover, there are many more people involved in researching and understanding the nature of asteroids and comets, including those that come close to the Earth, plus those who are trying to find and track them in the first place.

In addition to the resources NASA puts into understanding asteroids, it also partners with other U.S. government agencies, university-based astronomers, and space science institutes across the country that are working to track and better understand these objects, often with grants, interagency transfers and other contracts from NASA.

In 2016, NASA will launch a robotic probe to one of the most potentially hazardous of the known NEOs. The OSIRIS-REx mission to asteroid (101955) Bennu will be a pathfinder for future spacecraft designed to perform reconnaissance on any newly-discovered threatening objects.

Aside from monitoring potential threats, the study of asteroids and comets enables a valuable opportunity to learn more about the origins of our solar system, the source of water on Earth, and even the origin of organic molecules that lead to the development of life.

NASA recently announced developing a first-ever mission to identify, capture and relocate an asteroid for human exploration. Using game-changing technologies advanced by the Administration, this mission would mark an unprecedented technological achievement that raises the bar of what humans can do in space.

Capturing and redirecting an asteroid will integrate the best of NASA's science, technology and human exploration capabilities and draw on the innovation of America's brightest scientists and engineers.

.


Related Links
Near-Earth Object Program Office
Asteroid Radar Research
Asteroid and Comet Mission News, Science and Technology






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




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





IRON AND ICE
Dawn On Route From Vesta to Ceres
Pasadena CA (JPL) May 06, 2013
Nearly three times as far from Earth as the sun is, the Dawn spacecraft is making very good progress on its ambitious trek from Vesta to Ceres. After a spectacular adventure at the second most massive resident of the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, Dawn used its extraordinary ion propulsion system to leave it behind and undertake the long journey to a dwarf planet. Ceres orbit ... read more


IRON AND ICE
Where on Earth did the moon's water come from

Water on moon, Earth have a common source

Northrop Grumman Completes Lunar Lander Study for Golden Spike Company

Scientists Use Laser to Find Soviet Moon Rover

IRON AND ICE
Living and Dying on Mars

NASA Curiosity Rover Team Selects Second Drilling Target on Mars

Opportunity Making Smallest Turn Yet, As Dust Storm Affects Rover

More than 78,000 people apply for one-way trip to Mars

IRON AND ICE
Danish Space Venture ready for lift off

Researchers use graphene quantum dots to detect humidity and pressure

Outside View: Patents laws and suffering innovators

Glow-in-the-Dark Plants on the ISS

IRON AND ICE
China launches communications satellite

On Course for Shenzhou 10

Yuanwang III, VI depart for space-tracking missions

Shenzhou's Shadow Crew

IRON AND ICE
Star Canadian spaceman back on Earth, relishing fresh air

ISS Statistics Tell the Story of Science in Orbit

Spaceman says goodbye to ISS with David Bowie classic

Canadian ISS astronaut returns to Earth a star

IRON AND ICE
ILS Proton Successfully Launches EUTELSAT 3D for Eutelsat

Russia's Proton-M Spacecraft Set to Orbit French Satellite

ATV Albert Einstein installed on Ariane 5 launcher

ILS and EchoStar Sign Launch Contract

IRON AND ICE
Critical Kepler Reaction Wheel Fails: Mission End In Sight

Sifting Through the Atmosphere's of Far-Off Worlds

New Method of Finding Planets Scores its First Discovery

Team Takes Part in Discovering New Planet

IRON AND ICE
Scientists uncover the fundamental property of astatine, the rarest atom on Earth

Heady mathematics

Cornstarch proves to be worth its weight in gold

One order of steel; hold the greenhouse gases




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. 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 Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement