Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Latest Mars Asteroid update

The latest observations nearly exclude the possibility of 2007 WD5 colliding with Mars, dropping the probability to 0.01%.

This unfolding story and the present results have been made possible by the tracking efforts of many astronomers at several observatories around the world:

* 2007 WD5 was discovered using the Mt. Lemmon 1.5-meter telescope by Andrea Boattini of the University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey, which is led by Steve Larson.
* Follow-up from archival images taken by the 1.8-meter telescope on Kitt Peak in Arizona were provided by Terrence H. Brezzi of the University of Arizona's Spacewatch Project, which is led by Robert McMillan.
* Andy Puckett of the Univ. of Alaska obtained pre-discovery measurements from archival images of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey’s 2.5-meter telescope on Apache Point, NM.
* Bill Ryan of New Mexico Tech's Magdalena Ridge Observatory observed 2007 WD5 on several crucial nights, with critical support from university and observatory staff.
* Observations from the 6.5-meter Multi-Mirror Telescope (MMT) Observatory in Arizona were provided by a team consisting of Holger Israel (Univ. Bonn), Matt Holman (Harvard/CfA), Steve Larson (Univ. Ariz.), Faith Vilas (MMTO), Cesar Fuentes (Harvard/CfA), David Trilling (Univ. Ariz.) and Maureen Conroy (Harvard/CfA).
* The 3.5-meter telescope at the Calar Alto Observatory in Spain provided follow-up through a team consisting of Adriano Campo Bagatin (Univ. Alicante), Gilles Bergond (Calar Alto Obs.), Rene Duffard (Inst. de Astrofisica de Andalucia), Jose Luis Ortiz (Inst. de Astrofisica de Andalucia), Reiner Stoss (Obs. Astronomico de Mallorca and Astronomisches Rechen-Institut) and Javier Licandro (Inst. de Astrofisica de Canarias).
* Fabrizio Bernardi, Marco Micheli and Dave Tholen of the Univ. of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy observed the asteroid at its faintest using the 2.2-meter UH telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

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