Saturday, November 19, 2011
I saw on Twitter the other day a message by someone who likes to call the asteroid 2005 YU55 asteroid Yuss (YUSS = YU55), and that's not a bad way to remember it.
While the flyby is now over, people are still sifting through and compiling the data to make more detailed maps, temperature maps, and animations. Over on the Planetary Society blog here the most recent video NASA has released of 28 frames of the asteroid rotating has been turned into a .gif, which is much better than the original video - some 30 seconds of intro, then a quick animation and no repetition at all.
So here it is, Asteroid Yuss rotating:
So...when is the next approach of a close or interesting asteroid?
Barring any currently unknown tiny asteroids sneaking up on us to fly by any day now, this table shows us the expected flybys over the next few months. Fairly slim pickings, but if we isolate them by size, close approach and speed, we get the following:
Closest flyby until February: asteroid 2000 YA. Will fly by at 2.9 lunar distances, and diameter seems to be about 80 metres or so. That's enough to get a resolution of maybe...50 pixels?
Largest object until February: 1991 VK at about 2 km. Distance is a very safe 25.3 lunar distances, but with its size it should be a worthwhile flyby for Arecibo and Goldstone. Apparently if this one were to hit us (which it won't) it would create a 7.3 earthquake.
Slowest relative velocity: 2011 WD at 3.63 km per second, about a quarter the velocity of asteroid Yuss when it flew by. This asteroid is quite small (25 m diameter) and far away (28.6 lunar distances) so it will move especially slowly across the sky.