2005 UP156

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Timelapse made from 15 images, last updated July 10, 2017, 2:45 a.m.



Near Earth Asteroid (190166) 2005 UP156 was first discovered in 2005 by Spacewatch using telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory. Kitt Peak is located in Arizona, southwest of Tucson, in the Tohono O'Odham Nation Reservation. Kitt Peak is home to three major nighttime telescopes, 22 optical telescopes, and two radio telescopes. More observations of the asteroid taken three years earlier in 2002 were subsequently found in the archives of the Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT) project which operated at Palomar Observatory CA between 2001 and 2007.

With these earlier measurements and others taken since discovery, we have been able to find out a few interesting facts about 2005 UP156. 2005 UP156 orbits the sun every 3.08 years. Its orbit has an eccentricity of 0.47 meaning it is slightly elliptical (the eccentricity of a circle is 0). Also its orbit is tilted at a slight angle of 4.2 degrees compared to Earth's orbit.

About 2005 UP156

2005 UP156 has been classified as an Amor asteroid. Amor asteroids' orbits bring them close to the Earth, but they do not cross the Earth's orbit. The closest 2005 UP156 will get is 0.128 AU (1 AU is the average distance from the Earth to the Sun) on July 2057. But the next time it passes Earth will be July 10th, 2017 when it comes 0.133 AU to Earth or about 10 million miles. Another fun fact about 2015 UP156 is that it's orbit crosses the path of Mars.

2005 UP156 has an absolute magnitude of 17.2. This value tells us how bright the asteroid is compared to other asteroids and stars. From this value we are able to approximate the asteroids size. 2005 UP156 is about 1000 meters across, but because we do not know what the asteroid is made up of this number could be very different depending on the reflective properties of the material.

Who else is watching?

2005 UP156 is a upcoming radar target for the Planetary Radar Science group working at the Arecibo Observatory. The Arecibo Observatory is home to the world's largest radio telescope which is located in Puerto Rico. Their goals are to take observations that will determine 2005 UP156's shape, rotation, and surface properties. They do this by sending radio waves at the asteroid and measuring the waves that bounce off. With these measurement the Planetary Radar Science group will be able to refine its orbit and determine the size precisely.

While the Arecibo Observatory is planning on observing 2005 UP156 to find out more about the asteroid's physical properties and rotation, we have an idea about its rotational period from light curve analysis. It has been determined that the asteroid makes a full rotation in 40.5 hours. That's 7.5 hours short of two days on Earth!