Detailed info on Rosetta's approach to the asteroid Steins in early September. And a debate on Latvian and Lithuanian.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

253 Mathilde, an example of an asteroid. The one Rosetta will be encountering in a month is much smaller than this, but larger than Dactyl.

Rosetta woke up a month ago in preparation for its encounter with the asteroid Steins (technically 2867 Šteins) that will happen in exactly one month from now, and on its way there it will be conducting a large amount of extra observations since it's now approaching the point where its much closer vantage point will give it more precise information on the position of the asteroid than we have here on Earth, and it needs to take advantage of this to have as successful a flyby as possible. ESA has a detailed account of what exactly it will be doing on the way there:
Rosetta started the optical navigation campaign on 4 August 2008, at a distance of about 24 million km from Steins; the campaign will continue until 4 September, when the spacecraft will be approximately 950 000 km from the asteroid.

"The orbit of Steins, with which Rosetta will rendezvous on 5 September, closing to a distance of 800 km, is only known thanks to ground observations, but not yet with the accuracy we would like for the close fly-by," said Gerhard Schwehm, Rosetta Mission Manager based at ESA's European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC), near Madrid, Spain.
24 million km = about 70 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon, 950 000 km is under three times the distance.

For the first three weeks only one of its instruments will be able to see the asteroid:
"For the first three weeks of the campaign, however, only the powerful eyes of OSIRIS will actually be able to spot the asteroid, which will look only like a dot in the sky," said Andrea Accomazzo, Rosetta Spacecraft Operations Manager at ESA's European Space Operations Centre (ESOC), Darmstadt, Germany.

"Starting 11 days before closest approach, as the distance with Steins decreases, the two Rosetta navigation cameras will finally be able to see and track the asteroid, too," he added.

For the first three weeks of the campaign, Rosetta will image Steins twice a week and then, starting on 25 August, it will take images daily until 4 September.
One more month to wait. It's nice to have these small events to tide us over as we wait for much bigger first encounters such as Vesta and Ceres.

By the way, if you're Latvian here's the article on the astronomer that the asteroid was given the name of:

Kārlis Šteins (dzimis 1911. gada 13. oktobrī Kazaņā, Krievijā, miris 1983. gada 4. aprīlī) - latviešu astronoms.

1925. gadā Rīgā absolvēja Rīgas pilsētas 2. vidusskolu. 1929. gadā iestājās Latvijas Universitātes Matemātikas un dabaszinātņu fakultātē un studēja astronomiju. 1934. gadā sekmīgi beidza universitāti. Studiju laikā 1933. gadā K. Šteins devās uz Poliju, kur 3 mēnešus praktizējās Krakovas astronomiskās observatorijas direktora profesora Tadeuša Banahēviča vadībā. Krakovas observatorijā Kārlis strādāja par asistentu arī pēc universitātes beigšanas 1935. - 1936. gadā. Darbība Krakovā galvenokārt bija saistīta ar mazo planētu fotografēšanu un to orbītu aprēķināšanu. Šteins pirmais noteicis mazās planētas 1933 OP=QP precīzu orbītu. Mazā planēta ieguva kārtas skaitli 1284, un saskaņā ar tradīciju orbītas aprēķinātājs tai devis nosaukumu – 1284 Latvia.

Kopš 1951. gada Kārlis Šteins bija Latvijas Valsts Universitātes Teorētiskās fizikas katedras mācību spēks. Kopš 1956. gada – docents, kopš 1966. gada – profesors. 1958. gadā kļuva par Starptautiskās astronomu savienības (IAU) biedru. Kopš 1967. gada – PSRS Zinātņu akadēmijas Astronomijas padomes loceklis.

Astronomijas zinātni K. Šteins bagātināja ar saviem pētījumiem kosmogonijā, debess mehānikā un dažos precīzā laika noteikšanas jautājumos. Kārlis Šteins publicējis vairāk nekā 120 darbu. 1963. gadā PSRS ZA Galvenajā astronomiskajā observatorijā Pulkovā aizstāvēja doktora disertāciju „Komētu orbītu evolūcija”.

Šteina vārdā nosaukti viņa atklātie komētu difūzijas likumi. Arī mazā planēta 2867 ir ieguvusi nosaukumu Šteins.

That reminds me, back in April I asked a question on Auxlang about a page I found that makes the argument that Latvian is closer to the original Indo-European language than Lithuanian. The common wisdom is that Lithuanian is more conservative, which is what makes it interesting. Here's the page, and a few of the points:

Latvian vs. Lithuanian
Which Language Retains An"Older" (more Archaic) Form of Indo-European?

The relatively greater age of Lithuanian over Latvian was first alleged by August Schleicher (1821-1868), who published the first comprehensive grammatical study of the Lithuanian language. See the Latvian Language Insitute and the Institute of Lithuanian Language.

However, Schleicher conducted most of his work in East Prussia and NEVER actually came into contact with the actual primary Lithuanian dialect, so that his conclusions must be regarded with great scepticism.

Moreover, Schleicher made his conclusions at a time when there was a near vacuum of information and research on Latvian. The Latvian Grammar ( Lettische Grammatik ) of Endzelins first appeared in Riga in 1922. Essentially, Schleicher's conclusions have just not been questioned since that time, except for a few researchers who HAVE dealt with the subject intensively. Those who have dealt with the issue intensively, such as the German Rainer Eckert or the Scandinavian Ekblom, come to other conclusions.

Professor Rainer Eckert, University of Greifswald, provides several examples, which, according to him, point to the relatively greater age of Latvian than Lithuanian, evidenced by:

FIRST - the retention of older Indo-European irregular inflections (heteroclites); and,

SECOND - retention of the older i-stem in the roots of nominative forms of words, which are not retained in Lithuanian or in Old Prussian.

"Older" is used here in following sense: if we presume a proto-language, then a language which most nearly retains the original forms of this language is "older" and languages which show greater innovation in these forms is "newer", although all languages are of course equally "old" in tracing their roots back to the proto-language.

To the above two points we can add more:

THIRD - Latvian is the ONLY language in Indo-European WITHOUT aspirates. It is impossible to argue that Latvian is an archaic form of Indo-European and somehow allege it has LOST all aspirates without a trace. The only possible explanation is that
Latvian NEVER had aspirates - neither did Nostratic ! - and that this is the original state for Indo-European.

FOURTH - Latvian is the ONLY language in Indo-European in which ALL words are stressed on the FIRST SYLLABLE, and where later more modern "sing-song" effects are not present and where stress or accent has not been transferred to interceding or closing syllables carrying less than the initial important meaning of the word.

FIFTH - the lexical origin of words is easily reconstructed within the Latvian language itself, without recourse to any other outside sources or languages - it is an ORIGINAL language, explaining even difficult forms in Sumerian.
To which Kjell responded in Occidental:
It esset un tre interessant missage pri li leton e lituan lingues. Alcun curt comentaries de un persone qui ha jetat regardes in li leton lingue.

In mi studies del leton lingue yo sovent trova que ti lingue fa me pensar pri li gotic de Vulfila e su consortes. In li gotic lingue li nominative del masculiines terminat in -s quam in leton, ma il me sembla que plu ancian formes anc posset finir in -as. Talmen it esset con li parole "fisks" < "fiskas". Interessant que on mentiona Ekblom, il esset li autor del unesmi russ grammatica quel yo studiat. Ekblom esset li biblie por li studentes de slavistica in li 50's e 60's. Ekblom esset un legendari persone in li academic vive in Uppsala. Quant al constatation pri li absentia de aspirat consonantes in letton, yo me demanda si it existe aspirat consonantes in lituane o in russ! Yo semper credet que li aspirato consonantes esset un peculiaritá del germanic lingues - e omni los ne have, a mi comprension, t.e. si on ne usa "aspirat" in un altri sensu quam ti de un audubil -h- post ne-voceat consonantes in fort position (in stressat silabes). Li leton lingue es amusant in to que quande on vide un parole quam "suns" on pensa que to es "filio", relat al russ "syn" o un old-nordic "sunus" quel on anc trova in li gotico, ma no! Li parole significa "can", relatat al gotic "hunds" e german e scandinavian "hund". Ma lu amusant es que li leton parole seque li fonetic leges que yo un cert vez aprendet! Yo me questiona si li dainas, un sorte de folkloristic literatura, ne in factu es un cose quel ha existet in omni religiones orientmen del Baltic mar. Compara anc li folkloric literatura quel dat quam resultat li Kalevala in Finlandia e Kalevipoeg in Estonia. Forsan omni li popules circum li Baltic mar havet tal literatures, ma exemplemen in Svedia it ne havet unn Snorri Sturlason qui posit ti literature in scrit forme. Li baltic popules venit in contact con li scandinavos e germanos tre tardmen, dum que li popules queles vive in li hodierni Svedia, in alcun partes del land, ja in li 9 cecul havet contactos con missionaries de li hodierni Germania e Irlandia.
Esque it ne es talmen que tchec, slovac e leton ha li accentu (stress) sur li unesmi silabe? Esque to ne es un possibil stadium quande un lingue sorti ex un situation con liber accentuation? Li latin anc havet in stadium un accentu sur li unesmi silabe. In mi comprension lingues con accentu sur li unesmi silabe have anc li distintion inter curt e long vocales. In leton anc ne-accentuat vocales posse esser long.

Esque ti tract in leton posse esser causat o influentiat de un finno-ugric substrat? Compara anc fi. silta e leton tilts, laiva. It sembla que yo ha leet un regul in finese u un imaginabil ti deveni si. To vel explicar pro quo un leton tilts deveni silta in fines.
Now that the blog has more traffic than before it might be interesting to see if anyone that knows both languages might stumble upon this post and offer some insight.


Barcodex said...

Sorry, I know neither Latvian nor Lithuanian, but I have a conspiracy theory about having all words stressed on first syllable. it might be just an influence from Finno-Ugric languages, speakers of which were living next to Latvians since only God knows when. Estonians and Finns have all words stressed on first syllable and it's a safe bet that livonian people did this too.

Anonymous said...

My mother, was a philologist of baltic languages, and studied with Endzelins, the preeminent Latvian grammarian. Her opinion was that
Lithuanian was the more archaic due to less foreign occupation during
the last 800 years. Linguists study Lithuanian as a cognate language to Sanskrit today. Latvian is my mother tongue and some Sanskrit seems nearly comprehensible to me. The sun chariot that began this post would still be called "saules rati" today in contemporary Latvian, The word for wind is vejs. And in the Vedas, the chariots of the gods which are like aircraft are called "veja rati." Latvian has conserved much archaic vocabulary, and has a huge oral verse tradition comprised of 350,000 verse couplets about country life and customs and celebrations. It is also true that Livonian, a finno-ugro language was spoken along the coast of Latvia until recent times and each language has affected the other, in Latvian some vocabulary particularly about boats and the sea comes from the Livonian. Undoubtedly some Latvian is very very old, as old as Sanskrit, and contains some keys to understanding the roots of all indo-european languages

Barcodex said...

Sorry, I know neither Latvian nor Lithuanian, but I have a conspiracy theory about having all words stressed on first syllable. it might be just an influence from Finno-Ugric languages, speakers of which were living next to Latvians since only God knows when. Estonians and Finns have all words stressed on first syllable and it's a safe bet that livonian people did this too.

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