1566 Icarus

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1566 Icarus
Discovered by Walter Baade
Discovery time June 27, 1949
Other names 1949 MA
Group Apollo asteroid,
Mercury-crosser asteroid,
Venus-crosser asteroid,
Mars-crosser asteroid
Reference date July 14, 2004 (JD 2453200.5)
Longest distance from the Sun 294.590 Gm (1.969 AU)
Shortest distance from the Sun 27.923 Gm (0.187 AU)
Longest distance from the center of its orbital path
("semi-major axis")
161.257 Gm (1.078 AU)
How egg-shaped its orbit is
How long it takes to complete an orbit 408.778 d (1.12 a)
Average speed 22.88 km/s
Mean anomaly 124.422°
Angle above the reference plane
Longitude of where it comes up through the reference plane 88.090°
Angle between its shortest distance from what it orbits around and where it comes up through the reference plane
("argument of periapsis")
Size and Other Qualities
Measures 1.4 km
Mass 2.9×1012 kg
Average density 2 ? g/cm³
Gravity at its surface 0.000 39 m/s²
Slowest speed able to escape into space
("escape velocity")
0.000 74 km/s
How long it takes to turn around one time 0.094 71 d
How much light it reflects 0.4[1]
Avg. surface temp. ~242 K
Light-band group
("spectral type")
True brightness
("absolute magnitude")

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. [2] 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[3] (which was the basis for the 1979 science fiction film Meteor, starring Sean Connery).

References[change | change source]

  1. Radiometry of near-earth asteroids
  2. Page Modified
  3. Project Icarus, MIT Report No. 13, MIT Press 1968, edited by Louis A. Kleiman. "Interdepartmental Student Project in Systems Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Spring Term, 1967".

Other websites[change | change source]