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Week 20


Comet of the Week: IRAS-Araki-Alcock 1983d

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Special Topic: Close Cometary Encounters

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MAY 10, 1999: The LINEAR survey in New Mexico discovers the near-Earth asteroid now known as (162173) Ryugu. Ryugu was the destination of JAXA’s Hayabusa2 sample-return mission, which arrived there in mid-2018 and departed there late last year, and which is now en route back to Earth with its collected samples. The Hayabusa2 mission is …

Perihelion: 1983 May 21.25, q= 0.991 AU  On January 25, 1983, the InfraRed Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) spacecraft was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. For the next ten months, until its supply of superfluid liquid helium coolant ran out, IRAS surveyed the entire sky in near- to far-infrared wavelengths, and its findings completely …

The “Comet of the Week” this week is Comet IRAS-Araki-Alcock 1983d, which passed just 0.031 AU (4.68 million km, or 12.2 lunar distances) from Earth on May 11, 1983 – the closest confirmed cometary approach to Earth during the 20th Century, and the fifth-closest confirmed such approach in all of recorded history. Within this context, …