Feeds

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

NASA scientists suffer deja vu after new pics arrive from spacecraft

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST
Speculation rife, but Orbital claims it's too early to tell
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
OK Google, do I have CANCER?
Company talks up pill that would spot developing tumors
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.