Keck telescope snaps images of asteroid's exit

November 10, 2011
This first infrared image of asteroid 2005 YU55 was captured by the Keck II telescope. Credit: William Merline, SWRI / W.M. Keck Observatory

( -- One of the world’s largest optical/infrared telescopes has captured near-infrared light images of asteroid YU55 as it was departing its close flyby of Earth the night of Nov. 8, 2011. The observing run on the Keck II telescope was webcast live to a large audience on UStream directly from the Keck II Telescope Remote Operations room in Kamuela, Hawaii.

At the helm of the 10-meter telescope and using Keck’s pioneering adaptive optics to view YU55 were asteroid investigators William Merline and Peter Tamblyn of Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colo.; and Chris Neyman of Keck Observatory.

The first unprocessed infrared images of the coal-black asteroid appear to confirm that the asteroid does not have any small companion satellites and that it may be somewhat smaller than some researchers have suspected.

YU55, made its closest approach to Earth - just 324,600 kilometers – on Nov. 8 at 3:26 pm U.S. PST. Merline’s research is funded by NASA’s Planetary Astronomy Program and NSF’s Planetary Astronomy Program. More updates and images are forthcoming.

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5 / 5 (2) Nov 10, 2011
Will be interesting to see if image deconvolution may bring out any new surface details. Also, comparison with the radar movies might prove interesting.

I also wonder if any spectrophotometic or polarimetry data was obtained?
5 / 5 (2) Nov 10, 2011
Everybody was pointing just about everything at it. I am sure that there are going to be mounds of data with more mounds of papers written about it over the coming weeks/months/years. I doubt it has a pimple that we won't obsess over.

I wonder how far in advance Merline and Tamblyn go their names in for that chunk of time on Keck. Something tells me that reservation had a "major holiday weekend" premium.
5 / 5 (2) Nov 10, 2011
Universe Today has a nice collection of amateur and professional images and videos of 2005 YU55:

Amazing what a properly equipped amateur can accomplish targeting such a difficult and challenging object hurtling through our skies. Congrats to all who made the effort.

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