[meteorite-list] Freshly Painted Arecibo Observatory Returns To Work, Spies Asteroid 3200 Phaethon

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2007 09:34:46 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <200712211734.JAA08195_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


Chronicle Online e-News

Freshly painted Arecibo Observatory returns to work, spies object
associated with meteor showers


Dec. 21, 2007

By Lauren Gold
LG34 at cornell.edu

After receiving its first fresh, full coat of paint in more than 40
years, Arecibo Observatory made its first observation in more than
six months at 6:36 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 8.

The giant paint job was critical for ensuring the observatory's
safety and structural integrity.

The telescope focused on the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, which travels
closer to the sun than any other numbered asteroid -- about twice as
close to the sun as the planet Mercury. Phaethon is the source of the
Geminid meteor shower, which causes streams of shooting stars every

Jean-Luc Margot, Cornell assistant professor of astronomy, and Jon
Giorgini of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena,
Calif., are studying Phaethon and other asteroids that have
trajectories strongly affected by sunlight, sun shape and general
relativity effects. Mike Nolan, an Arecibo staff scientist, conducted
the Dec. 8 observation; Lance Benner of JPL leads the radar
investigation of Phaethon.

Asteroid orbits are influenced by the absorption and re-emission of
solar energy -- or the so-called Yarkovsky effect. These changes to
the asteroidal motion will be quantified with the Arecibo radar
measurements to understand the properties of near-Earth asteroids.
This is one of dozens of projects now under way at the observatory.

The six-month painting project -- the first time the Arecibo platform
and focal-point structure has received a thorough painting -- ended
in November. Since then a skeletal crew of observatory staff worked
around-the-clock to bring the 1,000-foot radio telescope and the
planetary radar back to astronomical life.

Now the observatory is fully functional, with all motion, electronic,
transmitting and receiving, and computing systems operating.

"It is ready to return to the task of carrying out the scientific
observations for the many thousands of hours of approved research
programs that will keep the telescope very busy for the next several
years," said Robert Brown, director of the National Astronomy and
Ionosphere Center, a national research center operated by Cornell
under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.

Received on Fri 21 Dec 2007 12:34:46 PM PST

Help support this free mailing list:

Yahoo MyWeb