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Lightcurve of asteroid Nereus

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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) doi:10.1186/BF03351655

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Keywords

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