Un asteroide per New Horizons

Il 13 giugno NH passera’ a 100,000 km da un piccolo asteroide (2002 JF56) della fascia principale.
Purtroppo la telecamera ad alta risoluzione ha ancora il “tappo” sulle ottiche, e quindi la sonda riprendera’ solo spettri, riprese fotometriche e immagini a bassa risoluzione

Ed ecco la prima immagine

New Horizons Tracks an Asteroid

It’s a small object with big news for the New Horizons team: the first probe to Pluto tested its tracking and imaging capabilities this week on asteroid 2002 JF56, a relatively tiny space rock orbiting in the asteroid belt.

In photos snapped by the Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) component of New Horizons’ Ralph imager, from distances ranging from 1.34 to 3.36 million kilometers (about 833,000 to 2.1 million miles), the 5-kilometer-wide asteroid appears as a bright, barely resolved pinpoint of light against the background of space. That Ralph “saw” the asteroid demonstrates that it can track and photograph objects moving relative to New Horizons – just as Jupiter and its moons and then, later, Pluto and its moons will be. This capability is critical as New Horizons closes in on Jupiter for a gravity boost toward the Pluto system.

“The asteroid observation was a flight test, a chance for us to test the spacecraft’s ability to track a rapidly moving object and to refine our sequencing process,” says Gabe Rogers, New Horizons guidance and control engineer from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md. “The objects we will observe this winter in the Jupiter system will appear to be moving across the sky much more slowly than this asteroid, so these observations were an unexpected opportunity to prepare for the even faster tracking rates we’ll experience in summer 2015, when the spacecraft zips through the Pluto system at more than 31,000 miles per hour.”

Click here for the full story, or visit: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/news_center/news/061506.htm .