Click For Photo: https://scx2.b-cdn.net/gfx/news/2019/asteroidorus.jpg
On September 7, 2019, a Unistellar team flew to Oman and successfully used the eVscope to observe an occultation of the asteroid Orus for the first time. The team was responding to NASA's call to the astronomical community to contribute to its Lucy space mission, making the observation a demonstration of the potential of citizen science.
In 2027, the Lucy mission will be the first spacecraft to fly by Jupiter's Trojans, primitive bodies, including Orus, that hold crucial information about the history of our solar system. Because many uncertainties surround the six targeted asteroids, NASA needs to understand their shape and trajectories, and therefore to improve the path of its $450 million spacecraft. Determining the shape and size of an asteroid will, for example, allow engineers to optimize the exploration schedule, and increase the science return generated by the mission.
Orus - Shape - Satellites - Information - Consequences
Discovered in 1999, we don't yet know much about Orus. Its shape is poorly constrained, and we don't know if it possesses one or several satellites. This information would have consequences for the design of the exploration phase of the Lucy mission.
Oman was the most favorable spot on Earth from which to observe Orus. More precisely, what observers could see was Orus occulting a magnitude 11 star. This event generated a light curve full of valuable information, such as a precise estimate of Orus' position as well as an assessment of its size.
Orus - Asteroid - Star - Middle - Screen
The Orus asteroid occulting a star, in the middle of the screen.
"This is the first time an Orus occultation has been observed," said Dr. Franck Marchis, a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute and Unistellar's Chief Scientific Officer. "We were in the right spot, and everything worked perfectly. One station located near Khalil, Oman detected and recorded this occultation while the other one only 30 km away...
Wake Up To Breaking News!