NEA 1994 CC has two moons.

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BoJangles2

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kewl stuff, though surely they could have used 2 lines of masking algorithms to clear images up.
 
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mithridates

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Yeah, exciting news. It gave me an idea: we saw the news about the panel last week that recommended deep space missions to asteroids etc. before colonizing the Moon and Mars - if a human mission could be sent to an asteroid with one or two moons it would be not only more scientifically worthwhile but many times more exciting for even those uninterested in space. The HD videos from Kaguya were wildly successful, and a mission on the surface showing what these moons look like as they rotate the asteroid would be phenomenal.

The more I think about it the more I like the idea of a human mission to an asteroid.

A page here says that there are 36 near-Earth asteroids with moons that we know of, and two of those are trinary systems. Surely one of those would make a good candidate?
 
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MeteorWayne

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I don't think an asteroids mission choice should be based on it having moons. In fact, such asteroids might have some problems....the most common mechanism for the creation of asteroidal moons as I understand it, is from the spin increasing to the point where rocks float off the surface because they gravity is no longer strong enough to hold them on the surface. That means the surface gravity/ centriptal acceleration would make it very difficult to stay on the surface; a small miscalculation could result in an astronaut becoming another moon.

I think the selection criteria should be based more on the material that the asteroid is made of.

Wayne
 
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mithridates

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Ah, there's the scientist in you talking again. Think about the PR - compare Lunar Prospector (no camera) to Kaguya (awesome camera + HD video). Near-Earth asteroids that a manned mission could be sent to have next to no gravity anyway so there is going to need to be a way to fix the ship and the astronauts to the surface no matter what. I really do think the number one criterion in going to an asteroid should be PR, since with the first ever manned mission to an asteroid the scientific return is guaranteed regardless.

Imagine giving an interview on the news for example, and being able to say something like "This asteroid the astronauts are heading towards has two tiny moons that orbit it, etc. etc." compared to a quickly forgettable "This asteroid is made out of carbonaceous chondrites!"

If both can be accomplished then so much the better of course.
 
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silylene

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MeteorWayne":1mx93o59 said:
the most common mechanism for the creation of asteroidal moons as I understand it, is from the spin increasing to the point where rocks float off the surface because they gravity is no longer strong enough to hold them on the surface. That means the surface gravity/ centriptal acceleration would make it very difficult to stay on the surface; a small miscalculation could result in an astronaut becoming another moon.

Wayne
That asteroid was rotating pretty quickly counterclockwise in the 77 min video, it was easy to see. The asteroid was also rather round shaped. The moon seemed to be in a polar orbit from the video. If so, they couldn't have been flung off.
 
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MeteorWayne

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Don't forget that asteroids precess very rapidly due to their low mass and the YORP and Yarkofsky effects, so if the moons were thrown off a hundred or a thousand or ten thousand years ago, it might not be rotating in the same plane at this time.
 
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mithridates

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This gives me an idea - let me know if it's silly or not. How about a very simple mission to a trinary asteroid system like this that simply sends three tiny landers to the surface of each of them, and they then monitor the system over the long term. They wouldn't need to move around to explore the surface since the other landers could observe the other sides of their respective bodies for them. Then we could learn about whether smaller systems have more or less orbital degradation than larger bodies, etc.
 
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MeteorWayne

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Cute, but again, what missions would you give up to do this? Remember, money is very limited, so if you want to do this, maybe we don't go to Titan or Europa. Is that worth the tradeoff?
In my mind, there are far more interesting and valuable studies to be done on asteroids.
 
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mithridates

Guest
MeteorWayne":2a1h2sao said:
Remember, money is very limited, so if you want to do this, maybe we don't go to Titan or Europa. Is that worth the tradeoff?
Depends on whether it ends up saving the Earth from an upcoming collision with an asteroid or not. And whether it results in more public support and funding for NASA or not once the results are in. Japan seems to particularly enjoy missions of this type though.

As for cost, certainly no more than Dawn at $446 million. I'm thinking something very small but long-term, and the landers would not need to move about at all.
 
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silylene

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MeteorWayne":13cvtrr3 said:
Don't forget that asteroids precess very rapidly due to their low mass and the YORP and Yarkofsky effects, so if the moons were thrown off a hundred or a thousand or ten thousand years ago, it might not be rotating in the same plane at this time.
Agreed, good point.
 
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