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Thread: Astronomers Catch Images Of Giant Metal Dog Bone Asteroid

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    Default Astronomers Catch Images Of Giant Metal Dog Bone Asteroid

    MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
    JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
    CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
    NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
    PASADENA, CALIF. 91109 TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
    http://www.jpl.nasa.gov

    Contact: Jane Platt (818) 354-0880

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE embargoed for 11 am PT May 4, 2000


    ASTRONOMERS CATCH IMAGES OF GIANT METAL DOG BONE ASTEROID

    NASA astronomers have collected radar images of a metallic, dog
    bone-shaped asteroid the size of New Jersey, an apparent leftover from an
    ancient, violent cosmic collision.

    The asteroid, named 216 Kleopatra, is a large object in the main asteroid
    belt between Mars and Jupiter; it measures about 217 kilometers (135 miles)
    long and about 94 kilometers (58 miles) wide. Kleopatra was discovered in
    1880, but until now, its shape was unknown.

    "With its dog bone shape, Kleopatra has the most unusual shape we've seen
    in the Solar System," said Dr. Steven Ostro of NASA's Jet Propulsion
    Laboratory, who led a team of astronomers observing Kleopatra with the
    305-meter (1,000-foot) telescope of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.
    "Kleopatra could be the remnant of an incredibly violent collision between
    two asteroids that did not completely shatter and disperse all the
    fragments."

    The astronomers used the telescope to bounce radar signals off
    Kleopatra. With sophisticated computer analysis techniques, they decoded
    the echoes, transformed them into images, and assembled a computer model of
    the asteroid's shape. The Arecibo telescope underwent major upgrades in
    the 1990s, which dramatically improved its sensitivity and made it feasible
    to image more distant objects.

    In fact, these new radar images are the first ever made of a main belt
    asteroid. They were obtained when Kleopatra was about 171 million
    kilometers (106 million miles) from Earth. Travelling at the speed of
    light, the transmitted signal took about 19 minutes to make the round trip
    to Kleopatra and back.

    "Getting images of Kleopatra from Arecibo was like using a Los Angeles
    telescope the size of the human eye's lens to image a car in New York,"
    Ostro said.

    Kleopatra is one of several dozen asteroids whose coloring suggests they
    contain metal. Kleopatra's strong reflection of radar signals indicates it
    is mostly metal, possibly nickel-iron alloy. These objects were once
    heated, melted and differentiated into a structure containing a core,
    mantle and crust, much as the Earth was formed. Unlike Earth, those
    asteroids cooled and solidified throughout, and many underwent massive
    collisions that exposed their metallic cores. In some cases, those
    collisions launched fragments that eventually collided with Earth, becoming
    iron meteorites like the one that created Meteor Crater in Arizona.

    "But we don't need to worry about Kleopatra - it will never hit Earth,"
    Ostro said.

    "The radar-based reconstruction of Kleopatra's shape shows the object's
    two lobes connected by a handle, forming a shape that resembles a distorted
    dumbbell, or dog bone," said Dr. R. Scott Hudson of Washington State
    University, Pullman, WA. "The shape may have been produced by the
    collision of two objects that had previously been thoroughly fractured and
    ground into piles of loosely consolidated rubble. Or, Kleopatra may once
    have been two separate lobes in orbit around each other with empty space
    between them, with subsequent impacts filling in the area between the lobes
    with debris."

    "The radar observations indicated the surface of Kleopatra is porous
    and loosely consolidated, much like surface of the Moon, although the
    composition is different" said Dr. Michael Nolan of the Arecibo
    Observatory. "Kleopatra's interior arrangement of solid metal
    fragments and loose metallic rubble, and the geometry of fractures
    within any solid components, are unknown. What is clear is that this
    object's collision history is extremely unusual."

    "It is amazing that nature has produced a giant metallic object with such a
    peculiar shape," said Ostro. "We can think of some possible scenarios, but
    at this point none are very satisfying. The object's existence is a
    perplexing mystery that tells us how far we have to go to understand more
    about asteroid shapes and collisions."

    The team's findings will appear in the May 5 issue of the journal Science.
    Ostro's team includes Hudson; Nolan and Jean-Luc Margot of the Arecibo
    Observatory; Dr. Daniel Scheeres of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor;
    Dr. Donald Campbell of Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; Dr. Christopher
    Magri of the University of Maine at Farmington; and Jon Giorgini and Dr.
    Donald Yeomans of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory

    The Arecibo Observatory is part of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere
    Center, operated by Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., for the National
    Science Foundation. The Kleopatra radar observations were supported by
    NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, DC. JPL is managed for NASA
    by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

    # # # # #

    4/24/00 JP
    00-XXXX
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    Default Re: Astronomers Catch Images Of Giant Metal Dog Bone Asteroid

    Dog-Bone Shaped Asteroid 216 Kleopatra
    Credit: Stephen Ostro et al. (JPL), Arecibo Radio Telescope, NSF, NASA



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    Default Re: Astronomers Catch Images Of Giant Metal Dog Bone Asteroid

    Was this found near ...Pluto!

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    Default Re: Astronomers Catch Images Of Giant Metal Dog Bone Asteroid

    And the jokes start.... lol

    I had a few, but kept them to myself. lol
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    Default Re: Astronomers Catch Images Of Giant Metal Dog Bone Asteroid

    You know what Hoagie is likely to be saying about this one...

    Nick
    Peace through superior firepower

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    Default Re: Astronomers Catch Images Of Giant Metal Dog Bone Asteroid

    Dunno what he might say haha
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