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Swift Captures Flyby of Asteroid 2005 YU55

As asteroid 2005 YU55 swept past Earth in the early morning hours of Wednesday, Nov. 9, telescopes aboard NASA's Swift satellite joined professional and amateur astronomers around the globe in monitoring the fast-moving space rock. The unique ultraviolet data will aid scientists in understanding the asteroid's surface composition.

The challenge with 2005 YU55 was its rapid motion across the sky, which was much too fast for Swift to track. Instead, the team trained the spacecraft's optics at two locations along the asteroid's predicted path and let it streak through the field. The first exposure began a few hours after the asteroid's closest approach and fastest sky motion -- near 9 p.m. EST on Nov. 8 -- but failed to detect it.

Six hours later, around 3 a.m. EST on Nov. 9, Swift began an exposure that captured the asteroid sweeping through the Great Square of the constellation Pegasus. The 11th- magnitude rock was then 333,000 miles away and moving at 24,300 mph, about an hour from its closest approach to the Moon.

That exposure gave the Swift team more than a streak through the stars. "A novel feature of Swift is the ability to go into a mode tracking the arrival of every photon captured by the instrument. With that information, we can reconstruct the asteroid as a point source moving through the Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope's field of view," said Neil Gehrels, lead scientist for Swift at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The 27-minute-long image was effectively sliced into short 10-second-long exposures, which then were combined into a movie. This allows scientists to study short-term brightness variations caused by the object's rotation.

The result is a movie of 2005 YU55 at ultraviolet wavelengths unobtainable from ground-based telescopes. For planetary scientists, this movie is a treasure trove of data that will help them better understand how this asteroid is put together, information that may help make predictions of its motion more secure for centuries to come.

The press release on NASA.gov is here.

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More information on this topic available at:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/swift/bursts/asteroid-yu55.html

Asteroid 2005 YU55 whisks through the field of view of Swift's Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope (UVOT) on Nov. 9, just hours after the space rock made its closest approach to Earth. The video plays on a background image from the Digital Sky Survey that shows the same region, which lies within the Great Square asterism of the constellation Pegasus (times UT). Credit: NASA/Swift/Stefan Immler and DSS    Asteroid 2005 YU55 whisks through the field of view of Swift's Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope (UVOT) on Nov. 9, just hours after the space rock made its closest approach to Earth. The video plays on a background image from the Digital Sky Survey that shows the same region, which lies within the Great Square asterism of the constellation Pegasus (times UT).

Credit: NASA/Swift/Stefan Immler and DSS

For complete transcript, click here.
Duration: 53.1 seconds
Available formats:
  1280x720 (59.94 fps) QT         647 MB
  1280x720 (59.94 fps) QT         124 MB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) QT         29 MB
  1280x720 (30 fps) QT         20 MB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) WMV         19 MB
  960x720 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   17 MB
  1280x720 (59.94 fps) QT         10 MB
  1280x720 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   7 MB
  640x360 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   10 MB
  640x360 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   8 MB
  320x180 (29.97 fps) MPEG-4   4 MB
  1280x720   PNG           148 KB
  960x540 (29.97 fps) WEBM         5 MB
  320x180     PNG           39 KB
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Short URL to This Page:http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?10871
Animation Number:10871
Completed:2011-11-11
Video Editor:Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
Producer:Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
Scientist:Stefan Immler (UMCP)
Writer:Francis Reddy (SPSYS)
Platform/Sensor/Data Set:Swift
Series:Narrated Movies
Goddard TV Tape:G2011-122 -- Swift Captures Flyby of Asteroid 2005 YU55
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
 
Keywords:
SVS >> Asteroid
SVS >> HDTV
SVS >> Music
SVS >> Satellite
SVS >> Ultraviolet
SVS >> Astrophysics
SVS >> Edited Feature
SVS >> Space
SVS >> Swift
SVS >> Space Science
NASA Science >> Planets and Moons
 
 


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Many of our multimedia items use the GCMD keywords. These keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation:
Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 8.0.0.0.0

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