A frequently-asked question last week was: if asteroid 2012 DA14 is coming so close to Earth, why hasn't anyone taken any pictures of it? Now that 2012 DA14 has whizzed past us, we do finally have some radar pictures of it, but they still may not satisfy everyone.
Mostly the Universe stays unchanged for hundreds, thousands or even millions of years. There are some cases however when some things change really rapidly. Recently I observed one of these rapidly changing, transient phenomena, as asteroid called 2012 DA14. I work for Las Cumbres Observatory and we have been trying to observe this asteroid since 5 February.
SEE IT NOW: The Planetary Society's CEO, Bill Nye the Science Guy, joined Director of Projects Bruce Betts for a live webcast as 2012 DA14, a 45-meter asteroid, was passing Earth. Bill and Bruce also marveled at video of the meteor burst high over a city in Russia.
Gary Hug is an asteroid hunter. He scans the skies every night looking for new near-Earth objects and refining orbital measurements for existing ones. Join Casey Dreier and Dr. Bruce Betts as they interview Gary Hug about his work and his recent discovery of a new NEO on January 7th.
Last week at a meeting of NASA's Small Bodies Assessment Group (SBAG), Han Li of the Chinese Academy of Sciences gave a lengthy presentation on Chang'E 2. Her presentation included a new sequence of photos from the December 13 Toutatis flyby.
Using a Planetary Society provided camera, Gary Hug in Kansas, USA discovered Potentially Hazardous Asteroid 2013 AS27 on Jan. 7, 2013. Shoemaker winner Bob Holmes provided the first follow up observations of this 140m-310m wide asteroid.
The Chang'E 2 mission flyby of Toutatis succeeded in acquiring images. Oh my goodness, did they succeed. These, in combination with the incredible radar images still being acquired from Goldstone and innumerable optical observations, make Toutatis one of the best-studied asteroids in the solar system.
I am happy to announce a new call for proposals for The Planetary Society’s Gene Shoemaker Near Earth Object (NEO) grant program, which is celebrating its 15th Anniversary. Proposals are due Feb. 4, 2013.
Learn about the Planetary Society’s newest project: PlanetVac, with Honeybee Robotics, aims to prototype and test in a huge vacuum chamber a new way to sample planetary surfaces that could be used for sample return or for in situ instruments.
Continuing my writeup of notes from last week's Division for Planetary Sciences meeting: presentations on the risks of future asteroid impacts. How much risk do we face, and what are the appropriate actions to take in the face of that risk?
Gary Hug used his Shoemaker NEO grant provided camera to find 2012 SY49 which flew by Earth at about two lunar distances last week. The tens of meters wide asteroid is a low-probability possible Earth impactor in the future.
The Planetary Society Shoemaker NEO grants celebrate their 15th anniversary of helping to find and track near Earth asteroids. Here's a quick review of the program, and updates on our four multiple-grant winners.