36th DPS Meeting, 8-12 November 2004
Session 28 Asteroid Physical Properties I
Oral, Thursday, November 11, 2004, 10:30am-12:00noon, Clark

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[28.03] 2867 Steins and 21 Lutetia: the Rosetta mission asteroid targets

M. Fulchignoni, M.A. Barucci (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris), S. Fornasier (Astronomy Dpt, Padua University), E. Dotto (INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma), P. Vernazza (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris), M. Birlan (IMCCE, Observatoire de Paris), J. Carvano, F. Merlin (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris), I. Belskaya (Astronomical Observatory of Kharkiv University)

Rosetta mission has been launched with success on March 2nd 2004. The mission started its journey to the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko that will be reached in 2014, after three Earth and one Mars gravity assisted swing-bys. Due to the optimum launch conditions, the remaining delta-V allowed the fly-by of two asteroids. To help in selecting the best targets for scientific return we observed most of the possible candidates. On the basis of our results we recommended the choice of asteroids 2867 Steins and 21 Lutetia as targets for the mission. The present knowledge of the two targetsí physical properties will be presented. 21 Lutetia (D=95.5 km) will allow the radio science experiments to determine its mass and to estimate its density. If the appurtenance of 2867 Steins to the E class is confirmed, the results of the fly-by will enlarge the knowledge of the asteroid population with the first in-situ exploration of a rare class object. More observations of the two targets with different techniques are needed in order i) to obtain more accurate albedo determination , ii) to characterize the surface composition, iii) to determine their shapes and iv) to estimate their pole directions. The knowledge of these parameters will allow us to optimize the operation during the fly-bys and to increase the science return of the mission.


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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 36 #4
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.