Diagram showing the orbit of the big near-Earth asteroid 2015 TB145, which will fly by Earth on Oct. 31, 2015. More An asteroid the size of a football stadium will zoom past Earth on Halloween, in a close encounter that astronomers view as far more treat than trick. The massive asteroid 2015 TB145 will come within 310,000 miles (500,000 kilometers) of the planet — or about 1.3 times the distance from Earth to the moon — on the afternoon of Oct. 31, just three weeks after the space rock was discovered, according to NASA. There's no threat of an impact on this pass, NASA officials said. Astronomers estimate the diameter of 2015 TB145, which is also known as "Spooky," to be between 950 feet and 2,130 feet (290 to 650 meters). The Halloween flyby will mark the closest known encounter with such a big asteroid until August 2027, researchers said. [Potentially Dangerous Asteroids (Images)] Scientists based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, plan to observe 2015 TB145 on Halloween using radio dishes at the space agency's Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California, as well as the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, and possibly the huge Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. "The flyby presents a truly outstanding scientific opportunity to study the physical properties of this object," the researchers wrote in an online observing plan. The asteroid, which will be traveling 78,000 mph (125,500 km/h) relative to Earth during the flyby, "should be one of the best radar targets of the year," they added. The public will be able to track 2015 TB145 as well, thanks to the online Slooh Community Observatory and Virtual Telescope Project. At 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT) on Oct. 31, Slooh will air a live webcast of the asteroid featuring time-lapse views of "Spooky," which completes one lap around the sun every three years, captured by powerful telescopes. The Virtual Telescope Project, meanwhile, will broadcast its own free show at 8 p.m. EDT on Oct. 30 (0000 GMT on Oct. 31). "It's frightening to think an asteroid this size, approaching so close to Earth, was discovered only 21 days before its closest approach, which just happens to be on Halloween," Slooh host Paul Cox said in a statement. "If that doesn't give you the chills, nothing will." "Slooh members are tracking the asteroid every night in order to reduce the great uncertainty of its position, size and highly unusual orbit," Cox added. "We can't afford to lose sight of an object this big, which has happened repeatedly in the past." An asteroid the size of 2015 TB145 would do major damage if it were to slam into Earth. For example, the near-Earth object (NEO) that caused the famous "Tunguska event," which destroyed 800 square miles (about 2,070 square km) of Siberian forest in 1908, is thought to have been just 130 feet (40 m) or so in diameter — about 10 percent as wide as 2015 TB145. Scientists have discovered about 13,000 NEOs to date, out of a population that numbers in the millions. Indeed, there are a lot of potentially dangerous space rocks zipping around out there undetected. In fact, less than 1 percent of the estimated 1 million NEOs at least 100 feet (30 m) wide have been found, NASA officials have said. But there is some good news for Earthlings: Models suggest that about 95 percent of the potential "civilization enders" — mountain-size space rocks at least 0.6 miles (1 km) across — have already been detected, and none of those are on a collision course with Earth for the foreseeable future. Copyright 2015 SPACE.com, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
This graphic depicts the orbit of asteroid 2015 TB145 as it flies past Earth on Oct. 31, 2015. More The big asteroid that will zoom past Earth on Halloween may actually be a comet, NASA researchers say. The roughly 1,300-foot-wide (400 meters) asteroid 2015 TB145, which some astronomers have dubbed "Spooky," will cruise within 300,000 miles (480,000 kilometers) of Earth on Halloween (Oct. 31) — just 1.3 times the average distance between our planet and the moon. Though 2015 TB145 poses no threat on this pass, the flyby will mark the closest encounter with such a big space rock until August 2027, when the 2,600-foot-wide (800 m) 1999 AN10 comes within 1 Earth-moon distance (about 238,000 miles, or 385,000 km), NASA officials said. [Potentially Dangerous Asteroids (Images)] Astronomers plan to beam radio waves at 2015 TB145 on Halloween using a 110-foot-wide (34 m) antenna at NASA's Deep Space Network facility in Goldstone, California, then collect the reflected signals with the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory. Such work should reveal key details about the space rock's size, shape, surface features and other characteristics — including, perhaps, its true identity. "The asteroid's orbit is very oblong with a high inclination to below the plane of the solar system," Lance Benner, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement. "Such a unique orbit, along with its high encounter velocity — about 35 kilometers or 22 miles per second — raises the question of whether it may be some type of comet," added Benner, who leads NASA's asteroid radar research program. "If so, then this would be the first time that the Goldstone radar has imaged a comet from such a close distance." Asteroid 2015 TB145 will be too faint to spot on Halloween with the naked eye, but anyone who's interested can get a look at the object online, thanks to live telescope views provided by the Slooh Community Observatory and the Virtual Telescope Project. The Virtual Telescope Project will air a webcast at 8 p.m. EDT on Oct. 30 (0000 GMT on Oct. 31), while Slooh's broadcast begins at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT) on Oct. 31. 2015 TB145, which was just discovered on Oct. 10, completes one lap around the sun every three years or so. It's part of a near-Earth object (NEO) population thought to number in the millions. Just 13,000 NEOs have been detected to date, meaning there are lots of potentially dangerous space rocks cruising through Earth's neighborhood unseen and unnamed. But there is some good news: Models suggest that about 95 percent of the biggest NEOs — the ones that could threaten human civilization if they hit Earth — have been discovered, and none of them pose a danger for the foreseeable future. Copyright 2015 SPACE.com, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Mousis O.,University of Franche Comte |
Hueso R.,University of the Basque Country |
Beaulieu J.-P.,French National Center for Scientific Research |
Bouley S.,University Paris - Sud |
And 58 more authors.
Experimental Astronomy | Year: 2014
Amateur contributions to professional publications have increased exponentially over the last decades in the field of planetary astronomy. Here we review the different domains of the field in which collaborations between professional and amateur astronomers are effective and regularly lead to scientific publications.We discuss the instruments, detectors, software and methodologies typically used by amateur astronomers to collect the scientific data in the different domains of interest. Amateur contributions to the monitoring of planets and interplanetary matter, characterization of asteroids and comets, as well as the determination of the physical properties of Kuiper Belt Objects and exoplanets are discussed. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.