Wednesday25 February 20045:02pm MST2004-02-26 UTC 0002 back top next  

The Asteroid/Comet Connection's
daily news journal about
asteroids, comets, and meteors


Today's issue status: done
yesterdayFebruarytomorrowIndex

Cover: An Arianespace Mission Update yesterday and Rosetta Journal entry today tell and show how the Rosetta spacecraft atop its Ariane 5 launcher left the Final Assembly Building yesterday afternoon by rail and were put in position "over large flame ducts" (seen at left) at about 4:20pm local in the "launch zone" at the Kourou Space Center near the equator in South America. Cars at lower left provide visual scale. The launch tomorrow at 0736 UTC (2:36am EST) will be webcast (see links below). Image ©Copyright 2004 ESA.

News briefs – part 1/2 Major News for 25 Feb. 2004 back top next  
News briefs

Planetary defense:  Astronomy Magazine has an article dated yesterday telling about issues being discussed at the Planetary Defense Conference underway in California (see report yesterday).

Every six minutes, our planet moves its own diameter along its orbit. Any successful mitigation strategy must change the arrival time of a potential impactor by this amount. 

A Los Angeles Times article appears at Knoxville News Sentinel today as "Collision-course asteroids not myth of science fiction." And Space.com has a second article today, "Earth At Risk: New Calls For Planetary Defense." It mentions the "meteorite fall that occurred over Park Forest, Illinois on March 27, 2003. . .  'the largest meteorite fall over a densely populated area in modern history...' The initial mass of the object is now estimated to be nearly 8 tons." (See A/CC news links about that event.)

more news briefs >>

Lander harpoon with
cover removed (c)ESA

The last activity on the Rosetta spacecraft was performed on the evening of February 23rd, arming the lander harpoons and removing the harpoon protective covers. This "delicate operation" was done by a technician placed inside the fairing on a so-called "diving board" (more photos with the harpoons).

Inside the fairing,
arming the harpoons (c)ESA

Harpoon at left and feet above. Images ©Copyright 2004 ESA

Rosetta mission previews have been posted at many news sites, most without anything new to A/CC readers. See Nature, New Scientist, and Wired for good short summaries today, and BBC has posted a Q&A page.

Launch broadcast/webcast: ESA TV, Capcave & text

News briefs – part 2/2 Major News for 25 Feb. 2004 back top next  

<< continued from part 1

SwRI news:  The San Antonio, Texas Express-News told yesterday about the Southwest Research Institute's 52nd annual meeting and show-and-tell for its trustees and directors. (See also SwRI history and more.)

Spitzer news:  The Spitzer Science Center has posted info about the New Views of the Cosmos symposium 9-12 November 2004 to discuss first-year results from the Spitzer Space Telescope (SST).

Dark skies:  Under the headline "Residents voice support for Fort Bend light limits," the Houston, Texas Chronicle today reports merely that "a plan to regulate outdoor illumination in Fort Bend County" was tabled yesterday "to give the public more time to comment." But the Fort Bend Herald-Coaster today reports combative resistance at the afternoon hearing, including an attack on the "National Dark Skies Association" (presumably the International Dark-Sky Association, IDA). Proponents responded with arguments that included how bright lighting helps crooks and vandals. See also an earlier report.

Comet news:  The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has a news release today, "Two Naked-Eye Comets At Once!" It gives detailed predictions for best April and May viewing periods in the southern and northern hemispheres for C/2001 Q4 (NEAT) [link|alt] and C/2002 T7 (LINEAR) [link|alt]. And Space.com has a report today, "Pair of Comets Set for Spring Sky Show." C/2002 T7 appears on A/CC Major News "covers" for January 1st and February 18th.

See February 19th news about scientific interest in those two comets, and also noting a European Space Agency news release about the Ulysses spacecraft encountering the tail of C/1999 T1 (McNaught-Hartley) [link|alt]. Geraint Jones of Imperial College's Ulysses instrument team told the Comets Mailing List on Monday:

As is to be reported in an upcoming Astrophysical Journal paper, in October 2000, the ESA/NASA Ulysses spacecraft unexpectedly crossed the ion tail of C/1999 T1 (McNaught-Hartley). To help in our follow-up study of the event, we'd be very grateful for any images of the comet obtained during October 2000. . .  [Images] that are used for analysis will of course be acknowledged in any resulting scientific publication. 
Risk monitoring - part 1/1 Major News for 25 Feb. 2004 back top next  
Risk monitoring 25 Feb.

No objects with impact solutions were reported in the Wednesday Daily Orbit Update MPEC. The Minor Planet Center Last Observation page, however, shows that 2004 DC was caught this morning from New Mexico Skies Observatory (by Robert Hutsebaut, A/CC has been informed).

JPL yesterday revised its risk assessment for 2003 YS70, adding one very low rated impact solution in 2103, based on the existing five-day set of 73 observations. This tiny lost object, estimated at roughly ten meters/yards wide, was last reported observed December 27th.

Summary Risk Table - sources checked at 0706 UTC, 26 Feb

Object

Assessment

Years

VI
PS
cum
PS
max
T
S
Arc 
days
 2004 DV24 NEODyS 2/242008-207427-2.48-3.1001.948
 2004 DC NEODyS 2/222013-208047-2.77-3.5005.741
JPL 2/222013-210150-2.12-2.7505.741
 2004 BG121 NEODyS 2/142005-2080123-3.65-3.9400.934
JPL 2/13R E M O V E D
VI = count of "virtual impactors" (impact solutions)
See A/CC's Consolidated Risk Tables for more and maybe
  newer details, and check the monitors' links for latest info.
Note that only objects recently in view are shown here.
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