Thursday, November 03, 2005

Rubble Piles and Binary Asteroids

Now this image is cool (click on it for a higher resolution version)! This the asteroid Itokawa which is currently being orbited by Japans Hyabusa spacecraft which will soon target a lander onto the asteroid. A few comments about this image. This asteroid looks like what I would expect a rubble pile to look like. It has blocks and boulders protruding from its surface like it just fell together. It's elongated like it might have been tidally distorted during a close approach to Earth. It looks like two discrete asteroids gently collided as though it might have been a binary at one time, perhaps only briefly before the two rubble piles gently collided, causing the smoother area near their joint.

Congratulations to the Hyabusa team and I'm looking forward to the success of the rest of your mission & a successful landing and sample return.


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