|Discovered by||Walter Baade|
|Discovery date||June 27, 1949|
|Other names||1949 MA|
|Longest distance from the Sun||294.590 Gm (1.969 AU)|
|Shortest distance from the Sun||27.923 Gm (0.187 AU)|
|How long it takes to complete an orbit||408.778 d (1.12 a)|
|Size and other qualities|
|Average density||2 ? g/cm³|
|Surface gravity||0.000 39 m/s²|
|Escape velocity||0.000 74 km/s|
|Rotation period||0.094 71 d|
|How much light it reflects||0.4|
|Avg. surface temp.||~242 K|
1566 Icarus is an Apollo asteroid (a sub-class of near-Earth asteroid). At its closest approach to the Sun (perihelion) it is closer to the Sun than Mercury. In its orbit it crosses the orbits of Mercury, Venus and Mars. It is named after Icarus of Greek mythology, who flew too close to the Sun. The asteroid 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, about 40 times as far as the Moon.  The most recent close approach was on June 16, 2015, 8.1 Gm (5 million miles).
In 1967, Paul Sandorff of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology gave his students the task of making a plan to destroy Icarus, if it was going to hit the Earth. This plan is known as Project Icarus (which was the basis for the 1979 science fiction film Meteor, starring Sean Connery).
References[change | change source]
Other websites[change | change source]
- NeoDys Object Listing: orbital elements and list of close approaches
- Article on TheSpaceReview.com about Project Icarus