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RE: Asteroid 2002 VE68
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Title: On the dynamical evolution of 2002 VE68
Authors: C. de la Fuente Marcos, R. de la Fuente Marcos

Minor planet 2002 VE68 was identified as a quasi-satellite of Venus shortly after its discovery. At that time its data-arc span was only 24 days, now it is 2,947 days. Here we revisit the topic of the dynamical status of this remarkable object as well as look into its dynamical past and explore its future orbital evolution which is driven by close encounters with both the Earth-Moon system and Mercury. In our calculations we use a Hermite integration scheme, the most updated ephemerides and include the perturbations by the eight major planets, the Moon and the three largest asteroids. We confirm that 2002 VE68 currently is a quasi-satellite of Venus and it has remained as such for at least 7,000 yr after a close fly-by with the Earth. Prior to that encounter the object may have already been co-orbital with Venus or moving in a classical, non-resonant Near-Earth Object (NEO) orbit. The object drifted into the quasi-satellite phase from an L4 Trojan state. We also confirm that, at aphelion, dangerously close encounters with the Earth (under 0.002 AU, well inside the Hill sphere) are possible. We find that 2002 VE68 will remain as a quasi-satellite of Venus for about 500 yr more and its dynamical evolution is controlled not only by the Earth, with a non-negligible contribution from the Moon, but by Mercury as well. 2002 VE68 exhibits resonant (or near resonant) behaviour with Mercury, Venus and the Earth. Our calculations indicate that an actual collision with the Earth during the next 10,000 yr is highly unlikely but encounters as close as 0.04 AU occur with a periodicity of 8 years.

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2002 VE68 is an asteroid discovered on November 11, 2002. It is best known as the quasi-satellite or "quasi-moon" of Venus.
This asteroid is also a Mercury- and Earth-crosser; it seems to have been a "companion" to Venus for only the last 7000 years, and is destined to be ejected from this orbital arrangement about 500 years from now.

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The 230 - 510 metre wide asteroid 2002 VE68 will make a close pass (0.3610 AU), travelling at 20.61 km/second, to the Earth-Moon system on the 25th October, 2013@ 16:40 UT.

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The Lunar Distance (LD), the distance between Earth and the Moon, equals 384,401 km, (or 0.00256 AU).


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The 230 - 510 metre wide asteroid 2002 VE68 will make a close pass (13.8 lunar distances, 0.0354 AU), travelling at 8.56 km/second, to the Earth-Moon system on the 7th November, 2010 @ 03:22 UT.

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The Lunar Distance (LD), the distance between Earth and the Moon, equals 384,401 km, (or 0.00256 AU).


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Title: Asteroid 2002 VE68, a quasi-satellite of Venus
Authors: Mikkola, S.; Brasser, R.; Wiegert, P.; Innanen, K.

The asteroid 2002 VE68 is currently a quasi-satellite of Venus, the first object of this dynamical class to be discovered, and is also the first known co-orbital companion to Venus. Our computations show that it has been in its present orbital state for about seven millennia and will stay there for five more centuries to come. It has a high eccentricity (~ 0.4) and inclination (~ 9). Consequently the maximum distance of the asteroid from the Sun is near that of the Earth and the minimum distance is smaller than the aphelion of Mercury. Very close approaches with Venus and Mercury are excluded within the interval of time of reliable numerical computation of the orbit, but repeated encounters with the Earth do occur. From the evolution of the orbit of this object, we conclude that it may have been a near-Earth asteroid, which, some 7000 yr ago, was injected into its present orbit by the action of the Earth.

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