Feeds

I found an asteroid! yells revived probe NEOWISE. Boffins nod politely

NASA scientists suffer deja vu after new pics arrive from spacecraft

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Pic Sorry, apocalypse fans: this asteroid probably won't get any closer to Earth than Moon-orbit distance. However, it puts an early win on the board for NASA's recently revived NEOWISE spacecraft.

The NEOWISE asteroid-hunter, revived in September after a two-year hibernation, sent back its first post-awakening images in December, snapping an already known rock called 872 Holder to prove that the craft was still operational. That asteroid had been discovered on the spacecraft's first mission, in which it discovered more than 34,000 objects.

The near-Earth asteroid that appeared in images taken on December 29 has been designated 2013 YP139.

Currently 43 million kilometres distant, 2013 YP139 is believed to be a pretty big rock, at 650 metres diameter, and NASA describes it as “extremely dark, like a piece of coal”.

While classified as “potentially hazardous”, because it could possibly pass within 300,000 km, the astronomers' calculations don't put it even that close anytime in the next 100 years. Given its size, that's probably a good thing: the damage caused by the Chelyabinsk asteroid last year in Russia came from an object estimated at a mere 17-20 metres in size.

The NEOWISE observations, shown in the image below, were confirmed by the University of Arizona's Spacewatch telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tuscon. In a nice hat-tip to the world of amateur astronomy, NASA also notes that follow-up observations were performed by Peter Birtwhistle, using the Great Shefford Observatory in West Berkshire, England.

NEOWISE image detail

Detail of the NEOWISE image of 2013 YP139. Full image here.

NEOWISE – originally WISE – was mothballed at the end of its original mission, when the solid hydrogen that cooled its telescope to 7.6 Kelvin was exhausted. That ended its first life as a hunter of extremely dim objects.

However, NASA was able to secure funding for the new asteroid-hunting mission, which will run until mid-year. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
ANU boffins demo 'tractor beam' in water
The current state of the art, apparently
China to test recoverable moon orbiter
I'll have some rocks and a moon cheese pizza please, home delivery
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.