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Posts Tagged ‘Herschel Space Telescope

New views of an ancient asteroid

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he Herschel Telescope is poised to obtain the first-ever views of target asteroid 1999 RQ36 at far infrared wavelengths before...

Using the Herschel Space Telescope, astronomers are set to obtain the first-ever images of asteroid 1999 RQ36 in far infrared light, a wavelength that the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will not be able to see once it approaches the charcoal-black chunk of rock floating in space.
Peering through forest-fire smoke with the 61-inch telescope on Mt. Bigelow north of Tucson, Carl Hergenrother observed the asteroid known as 1999 RQ36 on its 2011 Earth-approaching orbit early last June.
The 1,900-foot (580 meter) diameter, blacker-than-coal asteroid is the destination asteroid for the U.S.’ first asteroid-sample return mission, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx.
Hergenrother, of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona, heads the OSIRIS-REx asteroid astronomy working group of more than three dozen scientists from the U.S., Canada and Europe.
Astronomers want to get as many observations of 1999 RQ36 as possible through spring 2012, before the asteroid heads away from Earth and beyond view for ground-based and space telescopes for the next six years. By which time, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will have launched.
They plan observations with a network of telescopes in Arizona, the Canary Islands, Chile, Puerto Rico and space.
Observations will be challenging because the asteroid will pass no closer to Earth than 10.9 million miles (17.5 million kilometers) in early September, when it will be difficult to view against the angle of the sun….. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by physicsgg

September 26, 2011 at 6:46 pm