Saturday, December 15, 2012
Chang'E 2 zooms in on asteroid Toutatis
The Chinese space probe Chang'E 2 imaging of the asteroid Toutatis (and PHO) during arecent flyby of Earth was beyond expectations.
The closest fly-by was at 08:30:09 UTC on December 13 at an altitude of just 3.2 km and at a relative velocity of 10.73 km/s. Quite a few photos were snapped by the CCD camera - including this series of photos taken 93 - 240 km away from Toutatis, according to Emily Lakdawalla at The Planetary Society.
The Chinese images, in combination with the incredible radar images still being acquired from Goldstone and innumerable optical observations, make Toutatis one of the best-studied asteroids in the solar system. More from Alan Boyle at Cosmic Log and China's Xinhua.