Constantly gaining speed. Astronomers saw the strange behavior of the dangerous asteroid Phaeton
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This small space rock has several unique features and scientists have recently discovered another one.
The near-Earth asteroid Phaethon is classified by astronomers as a class of near-Earth asteroids called Apollos. It has a very elongated orbit around the Sun and during its space journey crosses the orbits of four planets at once – Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. With an approximate diameter of 5 km, the Phaeton asteroid is considered potentially dangerous for the Earth. This decade it will be explored by a Japanese spacecraft and a new discovery will help prepare this mission, writes Space.
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In 2024, the Japanese spacecraft DESTINY+ will go to the Phaeton asteroid. In 4 years, he should start studying this and several other near-Earth asteroids. Therefore, Phaeton, which was discovered back in 1983, again attracted the special attention of astronomers.
An international team of scientists, as part of recent observations of the movement of the asteroid Phaeton, found that it is gaining speed and its orbital period around the Sun is reduced by 4 milliseconds per year.
This seems like a very small change in the asteroid's rotation period, but even it can affect DESTINY+ observations. If you know the exact speed of rotation of the asteroid and its orbital period, then in this case it is possible to more accurately predict the location of the space rock during the approach of the spacecraft.
According to scientists, asteroids very rarely change their rotation period around the Sun. To date, the Phaeton asteroid is only the eleventh asteroid in which such a change has been noticed. But he is the largest of this group. Another feature of Phaethon is that it flies very close, as for an asteroid, to the Sun.
“During the observations of Phaeton, discrepancies arose with earlier data. After careful study, it turned out that this asteroid is constantly gaining speed and its rotation period, although not by much, is still decreasing. It is good that we now know this. Therefore, the mission team DESTINY+ will have more ability to locate the asteroid,” says Sean Marshall of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.
Research continues on this small space rock. But scientists hope to learn a lot more about the unusual Phaeton asteroid with the help of the new spacecraft.
Although Phaeton seems very small compared to other asteroids, nevertheless, even a 5-kilometer block can pose a threat to the Earth. Therefore, it is considered potentially dangerous. But on the other hand, astronomers believe that despite such a title, the probability of a Phaeton asteroid colliding with the Earth is very low.
As Focus already wrote, on October 16, a video with a fall bright objects that appear to be meteorites. These events were recorded in Odessa and Poltava.