Tuesday, 5 September 2006

2006 August notes: 2006 ON1, 2006 QV89, 6Q0B44E

Although some work was done on 16 nights in August, many sessions were interrupted by cloud with just a couple of nights judged as good. Most of the NEOs followed were observed on single nights only, the exception being Apollo 2006 ON1 with three nights.

Apollo 2006 QV89 was observed while it was on the NEOCP and is interesting because its minimum orbital intersection distance with the Earth (MOID) is currently given as 0.00001 AU or about 1,000 miles. At the time of writing (Sep 5th) it is listed with a 1 in ~800 chance of collision with Earth in 2019, so just as well it is only about 30 metres in diameter... Further positions in the coming days are desirable.

On Aug 29th positions for 6Q0B44E were obtained, discovered by the Catalina survey the day before and subsequently found to be in an unstable 80 day orbit around the Earth. It is still unclear whether this is an artificial satellite re-captured by the Earth similar to the Apollo 12 S-IVB third stage J002E3 back in 2003 or whether it is a very small (1-5 metre diameter) NEO temporarily captured by Earth. As noted by Bill Gray, with the current data, it looks as if this object probably entered the Earth/Moon system sometime between about 2000 and 2003, though dates as far back as 1991 are quite possible. Paul Chodas (JPL) comments that it will stay in Earth orbit for at least three more years.