Open Access

Lightcurve of asteroid Nereus

Earth, Planets and Space201452:BF03351655

https://doi.org/10.1186/BF03351655

Received: 2 June 1999

Accepted: 19 June 2000

Published: 20 June 2014

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.