[meteorite-list] Catalog of Known Near-Earth Asteroids Tops 15, 000
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu, 27 Oct 2016 16:59:58 -0700 (PDT)
Catalog of Known Near-Earth Asteroids Tops 15,000
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
October 27, 2016
The number of discovered near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) now tops 15,000,
with an average of 30 new discoveries added each week. This milestone
marks a 50 percent increase in the number of known NEAs since 2013, when
discoveries reached 10,000 in August of that year.
Surveys funded by NASA's Near Earth Object (NEO) Observations Program
(NEOs include both asteroids and comets) account for more than 95 percent
of discoveries so far.
The 15,000th near-Earth asteroid is designated 2016 TB57. It was discovered
on Oct. 13 by observers at the Mount Lemmon Survey, an element of the
NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey in Tucson, Arizona. 2016 TB57 is a rather
small asteroid -- about 50 to 115 feet (16 to 36 meters) in size -- that
will come closest to Earth on Oct. 31 at just beyond five times the distance
of the moon. It will safely pass Earth.
A near-Earth asteroid is defined as one whose orbit periodically brings
it within approximately 1.3 times Earth's average distance to the sun
-- that is within 121 million miles (195 million kilometers) -- of the
sun (Earth's average distance to the sun is about 93 million miles, or
150 million kilometers). This distance also then brings the asteroid within
roughly 30 million miles (50 million kilometers) of Earth's orbit. Observers
have already discovered more than 90 percent of the estimated population
of the large NEOs -- those larger than 0.6 miles (one kilometer).
"The rising rate of discovery is due to dedicated NEO surveys and upgraded
telescopes coming online in recent years," said NASA's NEO Observations
Program Manager Kelly Fast. "But while we're making great progress, we
still have a long way to go." It is estimated by astronomers that only
about 27 percent of the NEAs that are 460 feet (140 meters) and larger
have been found to date. Congress directed NASA to find over 90 percent
of objects this size and larger by the end of 2020.
Currently, two NASA-funded NEO surveys -- the Catalina Sky Survey and
the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) in
Hawaii -- account for about 90 percent of new NEO discoveries. Both projects
upgraded their telescopes in 2015, improving their discovery rates.
A recent upgrade to one of the Catalina Sky Survey's telescopes resulted
in a tripling of its average monthly NEO discovery rate. When the Pan-STARRS
system increased the observing time it devoted to NEO searching to 90
percent, it increased its rate of discovery by a factor of three. Pan-STARRS
also will add a second telescope to the hunt this fall. As more capable
telescopes are deployed, the overall NEO survey effort will be able to
find more objects as small as and smaller than 140 meters (460 feet).
The NEO Observations Program is a primary element of NASA's Planetary
Defense Coordination Office, which is responsible for finding, tracking
and characterizing potentially hazardous NEOs, issuing warnings about
possible impacts, and coordinating U.S. government planning for response
to an actual impact threat.
"While no known NEO currently poses a risk of impact with Earth over the
next 100 years," says NASA Planetary Defense Officer Lindley Johnson,
"we've found mostly the larger asteroids, and we have a lot more of the
smaller but still potentially hazardous ones to find."
For asteroid news and updates, follow AsteroidWatch on Twitter:
News Media Contact
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
agle at jpl.nasa.gov
Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726 / 202-358-1077
dwayne.c.brown at nasa.gov / laura.l.cantillo at nasa.gov
Received on Thu 27 Oct 2016 07:59:58 PM PDT