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TOPIC: Asteroid Itokawa


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RE: Asteroid Itokawa
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Japan's space agency has identified "minute particles" of what its scientists believe are asteroid dust collected by the probe Hayabusa.

The spacecraft returned to Earth last month after a 3-billion-mile journey that took more than seven years. Its mission had been to become the first probe to land on the surface of an asteroid and gather particles from the space rock before making the long trip home again.
Despite numerous technical glitches - including a malfunctioning gyroscope and a fuel leak - experts are hopeful that Hayabusa has achieved its goals.

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The Mainichi answers common questions that readers may have about the asteroid "Itokawa," to which the Hayabusa probe was sent to gather particle samples.

Question: What kind of asteroid is Itokawa?

Answer: It orbits between Earth and Mars, and is 540 meters long at its farthest point. It was discovered by American astronomers in 1998, and received the name "Itokawa" after the Hayabusa probe was launched. The name comes from Hideo Itokawa, Japan's "father of space exploration," who developed Japan's first rocket.

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Yesterday in the south central Australian village of Woomera, Japanese scientists, with US and Australian colleagues, celebrated news from their Hayabusa spacecraft - the first round-trip space mission to an asteroid. Successful manoeuvres that day had put the spacecraft on course to parachute its recovery capsule into the nearby desert on 13 June. Anticipation will continue to build until the capsule's lid is opened, offering, they hope, the first peek at asteroid dust.
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Date__(UT)__HR:MN     R.A._(ICRF/J2000.0)_DEC  APmag
2010-Jan-01 00:00 05 31 33.56 +25 08 11.6 19.59
2010-Jan-02 00:00 05 29 17.35 +25 08 17.9 19.63
2010-Jan-03 00:00 05 27 03.05 +25 08 15.3 19.66
2010-Jan-04 00:00 05 24 50.90 +25 08 04.3 19.69
2010-Jan-05 00:00 05 22 41.13 +25 07 45.5 19.72

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Asteroid 25143 Itokawa makes its closest approach to the Earth (0.571 AU)

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Asteroid 25143 Itokawa
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Mel****er Processes on Asteroid 25143-Itokawa
Asteroids, especially Near Earth Objects (NEOs), are considered to be dry, barren piles of rock, either C-, S- or M-type bodies (Asphaug 2007). A recent (2005) engineering feat carried out by the Japanese Aerospace Agency (JAXA) resulted in the successful rendezvous of the Hayabusa Spacecraft with Asteroid 25143-Itokawa, located some 320 million km from Earth.
The presence of periglacial deposits, some requiring mel****er from permafrost, raises questions about the composition of the frozen surface and subsurface mass of Itokawa, and the radiation balance/hydrologic change required to release mel****er. Moreover, the release of mel****er within a matrix of material known to have coatings of nannophase (secondary) Fe provides two of the basic building blocks which would allow for weathering processes on what is otherwise considered to be a cold, near-waterless planetary body with low gravity. If debris flows and stone-banked lobes on Itokawa behave in a similar fashion as those on Earth, and if there is permafrost and episodic mel****er release, it may be necessary to reassess commonly-held ideas about the surficial processes and landform genesis on asteroids

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The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) requested the International Astronomical Union (IAU) approve 14 names of craters and places on the surface of the asteroid "ITOKAWA," where our Asteroid Explorer "HAYABUSA" carried out scientific observations. The application was submitted under the theme of "place names concerning space development and asteroid science."
On February 19, 2009 (Japan Standard Time,) the names were approved by the IAU, thus they can be used as official names. We thoroughly discussed the names with the IAU's Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature, and all our proposed names were accepted. This was the first time that Japan requested the approval of such a large number of names for the surface of an asteroid and all of them were accepted at once.
It was also the first time that such a number of Japanese names were christened on the surface of an asteroid.
The names were decided in corporation with the University of Aizu, which studies the topology on the surface of the ITOKAWA based on observation data.

Source JAXA

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The AUI has approved 14 new names for craters and regions on the asteroid Itokawa.

Craters: Catalina, Fuchinobe, Gando, Hammaguira, Kamisunagawa, Kamoi, Komaba, Laurel, Miyabaru, and San Marco
Regions: Arcoona Regio, LINEAR Regio, Ohsumi Regio, and Yoshinobu Regio

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Title: Are There Meteors Originated from Near Earth Asteroid (25143) Itokawa?
Authors: K. Ohtsuka, S. Abe, M. Abe, H. Yano, J. Watanabe

As a result of a survey of Itokawid meteors (i.e., meteors originated from Near Earth Asteroid (25143) Itokawa = 1998SF36), from among the multi-station optical meteor orbit data of ~15000 orbits, and applying the D-criteria, we could find five Itokawid meteor candidates. We also analysed corresponding mineral materials of the Itokawid candidates through their trajectory and atmospheric data. We conclude, on the basis of our investigation, that the fireball, MORP172, is the strongest Itokawid candidate.

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The space-borne infrared observatory AKARI, observed asteroid Itokawa last month with its Infrared Camera. The data will be used to refine estimates of sizes of potentially hazardous asteroids in the future.
The data collected by AKARI, a JAXA mission with ESA participation, complements that from JAXAs asteroid explorer Hayabusa in late April this year.
As AKARI observed Itokawa on 26 July it was in the constellation of Scorpius, and was about 19 magnitudes bright in visible light. The asteroid and Earth were closest to each other, at a distance of about 42 million km (for comparison, Earth is 150 million km from the Sun). Given how close it was, Itokawa moved a significant distance on the sky over the short observing time.
Using observational data of asteroids such as Itokawa in combination with data from the explorer, models that estimate asteroid sizes can be made more accurate. This is especially useful for estimating the size of potentially hazardous asteroids which may be discovered in the future.
Before Hayabusa arrived at Itokawa, many observations to determine the asteroid's approximate size had already been attempted. Among the many different methods of measurement, the most accurate estimate was achieved by mid-infrared observations.

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