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Hubble observations of dwarf planets and asteroids Max Mutchler Research & Instrument Scientist Space Telescope Science Institute Baltimore, Maryland Florida Institute of Technology colloquium (and Homecoming) 2 November 2012 Launch of the Hubble Space Telescope April 24, 1990 Hubble servicing mission 1 December 1993 Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) was installed in 2002…and failed in 2007 Hubble Servicing Mission 4 11 May 2009 5 days of “spacewalking” Advanced Camera (ACS) repair Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) installed Goddard Spaceflight Center…16-hour shift during the ACS repair and first tests! Pipeline calibrations Hubble “first light” after SM4 13 June 2009 Starburst galaxy NGC 6217 Video: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2009/25/video/a/ WFC3 Early Release Observations Hubble observations of dwarf planets and large asteroids in support of other missions Waiting for their spaceships to come in… Dawn Ceres 2015 New Horizons Pluto 2015 Vesta 2011 …and maybe then we’ll be better able to define the word “planet”? Hubble imaging of asteroid 21 Lutetia in support of the Rosetta mission An optical “ghost” (not a moon) Hubble images reveal two new moons of Pluto Pluto on 15 May 2005 Hubble images reveal two new moons of Pluto Hydra Nix Pluto on 15 May 2005 Hubble images reveal two new moons of Pluto Hydra Nix Pluto on 18 May 2005 Hubble images reveal two new moons of Pluto Hydra Charon Nix Pluto on 15 and 18 May 2005 Hubble images reveal two more moons of Pluto (yes, we are working on better names for P4 and P5) Could there be any hazards for the New Horizons spacecraft when it flies through the Pluto system on 14 July 2015? http://www.iau2006.org Final Resolution for GA-XXVI: Definition of a Planet 24 August 2006 The IAU therefore resolves that planets and other bodies in our Solar System, except satellites, be defined into three distinct categories in the following way: (1) A “planet” is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit. (2) A “dwarf planet” is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, (c) has not cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit, and (d) is not a satellite. (3) All other objects, except satellites, orbiting the Sun shall be referred to collectively as “Small Solar System Bodies”. Pluto is a "dwarf planet" by the above definition and is recognized as the prototype of a new category of trans-Neptunian objects. For now, Charon is considered just to be Pluto’s moon. The idea that Charon might qualify to be called a dwarf planet on its own, may be considered later. Dwarf planets Ceres and Pluto: The “ugly duckling” problem of being the first of an entire class Asteroid Belt Kuiper Belt Discovered 1801-1851 Discovered in 1992…or 1930? Ceres Asteroid history and mystery • Ceres, Vesta, Pallas, discovered in early 1800s • Called planets for 50 years, then re-classified: any déjà vu ? • Key to understanding Solar System formation …and us • Giveth: our oceans? • Taketh away: Killed the dinosaurs? Still a threat? • Exploration with Hubble, Dawn…and astronauts? dwarf planet asteroid (small solar system body) Why does roundness matter ? Vesta’s impact crater Big collisions in the early Solar System • Earth-Moon formation • Pluto and moons • Vesta impact: created 50 smaller asteroids, 20% of meteorites… and any moons? So Vesta should have moons, right? Satellite search with Hubble’s WFPC2 camera… Hill sphere (orbital stability zone) …and with Dawn as it approached in July 2011 Dawn spent a year in polar orbit around Vesta, before leaving for Ceres. Over the last 16 years, Hubble observations have helped refine Vesta’s pole position, which gave Dawn extra time to do science, rather than making orbit adjustments. A more accurate knowledge of the pole position also helped identify when the extreme latitudes had the best possible solar illumination for imaging. Improved Measurement of asteroid 4 Vesta’s rotational axis orientation Jian-Yang Li,, Peter C. Thomas, Brian Carcich, Max J. Mutchler, Lucy A. McFadden, Christopher T. Russell, Stacy S. Weinstein-Weiss, Marc D. Rayman, Carol A. Raymond , 2010, Icarus Asteroid and comet impacts may have delivered water and organic material to Earth – the stuff of life. But does the water add up? Water Ice Discovered on Asteroid for First Time By Clara Moskowitz SPACE.com Senior Writer 28 April 2010 Water ice has been found on the surface of a nearby asteroid for the first time – a discovery that could help explain how Earth got its oceans. Two teams of researchers independently verified that the asteroid 24 Themis – a large rock hurtling through space in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter – is coated in a layer of frost. They also found that the asteroid contains organic material, including some molecules that might be ingredients for life. The discovery might even provide clues about the origin of water on Earth. "Our data are certainly at least consistent with the idea that you could bring in plenty of water from impacts,“ said Andrew Rivkin of Johns Hopkins University. Asteroid Scheila: a “Main Belt Comet” ? In the wee hours of December 11th, University of Arizona astronomer Steve Larson was on cosmic patrol with the Catalina Sky Survey's Schmidt telescope. That's when he noticed something odd about the appearance of the main-belt asteroid 596 Scheila. The asteroid was clearly fuzzy, with a soft glow extending a few arcminutes to the west and north. Other astronomers quickly confirmed the cometary appearance. If Scheila is truly a long-dormant comet, then it's a big one: current estimates put its diameter at 70 miles (113 km). "It's a main-belt comet, although I don't know what type yet," Dave Jewitt explains. He says it could have resulted from an impact (as occurred earlier this year with P/2010 A2) or outgassing (as occurs on 133P/Elst-Pizarro). Artists’s impression of a smaller asteroid colliding with much bigger asteroid Scheila A comet in the asteroid belt? No, an asteroid collision… Research by William F. Bottke, David Vokrouhlicky and David Nesvorny suggests that the impactor believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs and other life forms on Earth 65 million years ago can been traced back to a breakup event in the main asteroid belt. NASA's New Asteroid Mission Could Save the Planet By Tariq Malik SPACE.com Managing Editor 16 April 2010 President Barack Obama set a lofty next goal this week for Americans in space: Visiting an asteroid by 2025. But reaching a space rock in a mere 15 years is a daunting mission, and one that might also carry the ultimate safety of the planet on its shoulders. Astrophysicist John Grunsfeld – a former NASA astronaut who three shuttle missions to fix the Hubble Space Telescope – suggested sending humans to purposely move an asteroid, to nudge the space rock to change its trajectory. Such a feat, he said, would show that humanity could deflect a space rock if one threatened to crash into the planet. There are secrets locked away on asteroids that may hold the key to understanding the formation of the solar system. Asteroids are the thought to be the leftover remnants of the solar system's buildings blocks. The organic molecules and compounds on them may offer clues on how life began on Earth, and if it's possible elsewhere in the universe. A human mission (or a mining operation) to a near-Earth asteroid ? Illustration: IHMC Citation from IAU Minor Planet Circular 56612 on the naming of Asteroid “6815 Mutchler” A relatively recent flood of discoveries in the Solar System have ignited debate over how the collection of all Solar System bodies are defined and classified. While the classification debate may seem somewhat semantic, and focused mainly on the question, “What is a planet?”, the defining characteristics of many small bodies seems a bit blurrier than ever before. The Hubble Space Telescope (HST), owing to its unmatched combination of resolution and sensitivity, has played a unique role in studying some of the Solar System objects in question. This talk will review what is being learned from Hubble observations of dwarf planets Pluto and Ceres, the large asteroid or "protoplanet" Vesta, and some peculiar comets and "active asteroids". Max Mutchler has been working on the Hubble Space Telescope for over 22 years -- the entire mission. Max was hired just two weeks before the launch of Hubble in 1990, and just a few months before completing an M.S. degree in Space Sciences from FIT. Thanks to the proximity of FIT to the Kennedy Space Center, he was able to witness the launch of Hubble, and his own career, from the VIP site at Banana Creek. Max is a Research and Instrument Scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute, on the campus of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He is currently focused on managing a group of 35 analysts and scientists, but he continues to make a range of contributions to the Hubble mission. Max is an expert on Hubble’s cameras. He is a member of the Hubble Heritage team, which has produced many of the iconic images that Hubble is famous for. Max also specializes in observations of Solar System objects, often in support of planetary missions such as New Horizons (en route to Pluto) and Dawn (currently exploring the Asteroid Belt). He is a member of the team that has discovered several new moons of Pluto, including one last July. Asteroid “6815 Mutchler” was named in honor of Max’s role in these discoveries. This work was featured as the cover story for the August 2006 edition of Florida Tech Today. Max is also involved in a range of educational outreach activities, which has recently included citizen science, tactile images with Braille captions, and the first-ever astronomical star party on the South Lawn of the White House. Max’s wife Julie Ayers was an adjunct instructor in the Humanities Department during their time at FIT, and they live in Baltimore with their two teenage children.