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Lightcurve of asteroid Nereus

Abstract

An Apollo asteroid (4660) Nereus is one of the most accessible asteroids by spacecraft. Photometric observations of light variation of Nereus were performed in order to support a mission scenario planning and to elucidate the origin of the asteroid. The results revealed that Nereus has a long rotational period, 15.1 ± 1.2 hours, and that the amplitude of light variation is fairly large. Its slow rotation is preferable for a landing or touch down scenario of spacecraft. On the other hand, the comparison of lightcurve data between small main-belt asteroids and comet nuclei suggests that Nereus may be an extinct cometary nucleus, rather than a migrated asteroid from the main-belt. The comparison of the observed data with laboratory impact experiments also implies that the asteroid may not be a fragment from a catastrophic impact event in the main-belt. All the other data already obtained, such as by colorimetry, are not inconsistent with the cometary origin, either.

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Correspondence to Yukihiro Ishibashi.

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Ishibashi, Y., Abe, M. & Takagi, Y. Lightcurve of asteroid Nereus. Earth Planet Sp 52, 509–515 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1186/BF03351655

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Keywords

  • Rotational Period
  • Light Variation
  • Pole Orientation
  • Comet Nucleus
  • Comparison Star