Stories, updates, insights, and original analysis from The Planetary Society.
There is a paper in press at Icarus by Xiaoduan Zou and five coauthors that provides the first peer-reviewed publication I've seen on the results of the imaging experiment performed during the Chang'e 2 flyby of near-Earth asteroid (4179) Toutatis.
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.
My collage of all the asteroids and comets visited by spacecraft is probably the single most popular image I have ever posted on this blog. I've now updated it to be in color and to include Toutatis.
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.
Near-Earth asteroid 4179 Toutatis will be passing within 7 million kilometers of Earth on December 12. Both radio telescopes and the Chang'E 2 spacecraft will be acquiring images.
According to a Chinese spaceflight forum, Chang'E program chief scientist Ouyang Ziyuan recently announced that Chang'E 2 has departed the Sun-Earth L2 point and is now en route to asteroid 4179 Toutatis!
This morning, asteroid 4179 Toutatis was so close to Earth that simultaneous observations from two telescopes in the same country could show parallax that is obvious even to the least experienced observer. The two telescopes belong to The European Southern Observatory and are located at La Silla and Paranal in Chile
On Wednesday, September 29, Earth will dodge a cannonball: the Near-Earth Asteroid known as 4179 Toutatis will buzz by at a distance only four times the distance from the Earth to the Moon -- about one and a half million kilometers, or about a million miles. But, as the wisdom goes,