Monday, 17 December 2012

Asteroid Toutatis: Close-up Pix by Chinese Spacecraft

Toutatis Revealed by Chinese Spacecraft

Chang'e 2, a Chinese spacecraft that was orbiting the Moon 18 months ago, has wowed space-watchers around the world by returning detailed images of asteroid 4179 Toutatis taken during a close-in, high-speed flyby.

Confucius actually never said "A picture is worth a thousand words," but that well-known proverb's Chinese attribution (even if unfounded) is ringing true today. That's because we're getting our first looks at asteroid 4179 Toutatis as seen at close range by the Chang'e 2 spacecraft, which flew past the little asteroid two days ago. And those few images say a lot about what this potentially hazardous near-Earth object is all about.

Toutatis as seen by Chang'e 2
These close-ups of asteroid 4179 Toutatis, recorded from 58 to 150 miles (93 to 240 km) away by the Chang'e 2 spacecraft on December 13, 2012, reveal surface features down to about 35 feet (10 m) across. Toutatis is 2.8 miles (4.5 km) long. Click here for a larger version.
CLEP / Xinhua
 
According to Chinese news sources, the spacecraft sped past Toutatis at 6.7 miles (10.7 km) per second and came nearest — a mere 2 miles away! — at 4:30:09 p.m. (8:30:09 Universal Time) on December 13th. The daringly close flyby yielded images that show surface details less than 15 feet (5 m) across.

More - Link >>> http://www.skyandtelescope.com/news/Toutatis-Revealed-by-Chinese-Spacecraft-183673171.html

Source: Sky and Telescope Magazine.

gaw

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