A scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, has accurately determined the mass of a nearby asteroid from millions of miles away.
The celestial equivalent of “guess your weight” was achieved by Steve Chesley of JPL’s Near-Earth Object Program Office by utilizing data from three NASA assets – the Goldstone Solar System Radar in the California desert, the orbiting Spitzer Space telescope, and the NASA-sponsored Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.
Chesley presented his findings this past Saturday, May 19th, at the Asteroids, Comets and Meteors 2012 meeting in Niigata, Japan.
For Chesley to define the asteroid’s mass, he first needed to understand its orbit and everything that could affect that orbit — including neighboring celestial bodies and any propulsive force (however minute) the asteroid could generate. More…….