Mystery object with 31-day orbital period

From: Bill J Gray (pluto@projectpluto.com)
Date: Mon Oct 26 2009 - 22:04:01 UTC

  • Next message: Jonathan McDowell: "Re: Mystery object with 31-day orbital period"

    Hello all,
    
        First,  as I'm new to this list,  a brief intro:  I'm almost
    entirely involved with tracking of natural objects (asteroids,
    comets,  planetary satellites) rather than of artificial objects.
    But every now and then,  the folks who find those objects find
    something that moves in a vaguely asteroid-like manner (i.e.,
    pretty slowly).
    
        Such objects are usually things with really high orbits,
    often with high eccentricity (so that they move slowly at
    apogee).  For example,  IMP-8,  an object about halfway out
    to the moon with a twelve-day orbital period,  routinely gets
    observed and mistaken for a satellite.  Most of these get
    observed for a bit and then somebody figures out what they
    are,  and then we all go back to looking for asteroids.
    
        But today,  four observatories in New Mexico and Arizona
    tracked a "mystery object" with an orbital period of about 31
    days.  Then some observers with a telescope in Spain got some
    more data on it,  so the orbit is firmed up a little.  It has
    received a temporary name of 9U01FF6.  Here's the data on it:
    
    http://www.projectpluto.com/mpec.htm
    
        This is sort of a standard format for asteroid data:  you
    get the observations (times,  RA/dec,  magnitude,  a
    three-character observatory code) followed by orbital elements
    and ephemerides.  I've also included a set of TLEs.  (Be warned
    that some software will probably choke at the idea of a TLE
    for an object with a 31-day period with e=.8.)
    
        Anyway.  I've signed up to this list and am making this
    post because I've no clue as to what this thing might be.
    Any suggestions?
    
    Thanks!            -- Bill
    
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