DPS 35th Meeting, 1-6 September 2003
Session 36. Asteroid Dynamics II
Poster, Highlighted on, Friday, September 5, 2003, 3:30-6:00pm, Sierra Ballroom I-II

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[36.02] Observations of J002E3: Possible Discovery of an Apollo Rocket Body

K. Jorgensen (NASA JSC), A. Rivkin, R. Binzel (MIT), R. Whitely, C. Hergenrother (University of Arizona), P. Chodas, S. Chesley (JPL), F. Vilas (NASA JSC)

In early September 2002, spectral and photometric observations of J002E3 were made at IRTF and Mt. Biglow in an effort to determine whether the object was an asteroid or a human-made. Early observations yielded a possible spin-rate and orientation. Additional spectral observations were completed in May 2003 at the Air Force Maui Optical Supercomputing (AMOS) site. Through the modeling of common spacecraft materials, the observations of J002E3 show a strong correlation of absorption features to a combination of human-made materials including white paint, black paint, and aluminum. Absorption features in the near IR show a strong correlation with paint containing a titanium-oxide semiconductor. Using the material model and the orbital information, it was concluded that J002E3 is a human-made object from an Apollo rocket upperstage, most likely Apollo 12. In addition, the J002E3 observations were compared to spectral observations of other rocket bodies launched during a similar time and the results agree well. Results from the observations and modeling will be presented. This work has been a collaboration of governmental agencies, education institutions, and amateur astronomers. Funding agencies include National Research Council, NASA JSC, MIT, University of Arizona, and JPL.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35 #4
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.