|Discovered by||Walter Baade|
|Discovery date||June 27, 1949|
|Alternative names||1949 MA|
|Minor planet category||Apollo asteroid,
|Epoch July 14, 2004 (JD 2453200.5)|
|Aphelion||294.590 Gm (1.969 AU)|
|Perihelion||27.923 Gm (0.187 AU)|
|Semi-major axis||161.257 Gm (1.078 AU)|
|Orbital period||408.778 d (1.12 a)|
|Average orbital speed||22.88 km/s|
|Longitude of ascending node||88.090°|
|Argument of perihelion||31.290°|
|Mean density||2 ? g/cm³|
|Equatorial surface gravity||0.000 39 m/s²|
|Escape velocity||0.000 74 km/s|
|Rotation period||0.094 71 d|
1566 Icarus is an Apollo asteroid (a sub-class of near-Earth asteroid) whose strange characteristic is that at perihelion (is closest approach to the Sun) it is closer to the Sun than Mercury; it is said to be a Mercury-crosser asteroid. It is also a Venus and Mars-crosser. It is named after Icarus of Greek mythology, who flew too close to the Sun. It was found in 1949 by Walter Baade.
Icarus makes a close approach to Earth at gaps of 9, 19, or 38 years. Sometimes, it comes as close as 6.4 Gm (16 lunar distances and 4 million miles), as it did on June 14, 1968. The last close approach was in 1996, at 15.1 Gm, almost 40 times as far as the Moon.  The next close approach will be June 16, 2015 at 8.1 Gm (5 million miles).
In 1967, Professor Paul Sandorff from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology gave his students the task to make a plan to destroy Icarus in the case that it may be hitting Earth. This plan is known as Project Icarus (which was the basis for the 1979 science fiction film Meteor, starring Sean Connery).
Other websites [change]
- NeoDys Object Listing: orbital elements and list of close approaches
- Article on TheSpaceReview.com about Project Icarus