Feeds

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

NASA scientists suffer deja vu after new pics arrive from spacecraft

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!
Spanish launch goes titsup, we're off to the US of A
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
prev story

Whitepapers

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 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
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.