PIA09230: New Horizons Tracks an Asteroid

New Horizons Tracks an Asteroid


The two "spots" in this image are a composite of two images of asteroid 2002 JF56 taken on June 11 and June 12, 2006, with the Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) component of the New Horizons Ralph imager. In the bottom image, taken when the asteroid was about 3.36 million kilometers (2.1 million miles) away from the spacecraft, 2002 JF56 appears like a dim star. At top, taken at a distance of about 1.34 million kilometers (833,000 miles), the object is more than a factor of six brighter. The best current, estimated diameter of the asteroid is approximately 2.5 kilometers.

The asteroid observation was a chance for the New Horizons team to test the spacecraft's ability to track a rapidly moving object. On June 13 New Horizons came to within about 102,000 kilometers of the small asteroid, when the spacecraft was nearly 368 million kilometers (228 million miles) from the Sun and about 273 million kilometers (170 million miles) from Earth.

Cataloging Keywords:

Name Value Additional Values
Target 2002 JF56 Earth, Sun
System Asteroid Belt Earth
Target Type Earth Asteroid, Sun
Mission New Horizons
Instrument Host New Horizons
Host Type Flyby Spacecraft
Instrument Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC)
Extra Keywords Grayscale
Acquisition Date
Release Date 2007-04-02
Date in Caption 2006-06-12
Image Credit NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
Source photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA09230
Identifier PIA09230