June 30 is Asteroid Day.
This image was taken using the 200-inch Hale telescope on Palomar Mountain by astronomers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the Deep Space 1 spacecraft at a distance of 2.3 million miles (3.7 million kilometers) from Earth. Tracing a path against the constellation Gemini. This image was obtained on Nov. 16, 1998, 23 days after the spacecraft’s launch from Cape Canaveral, FL.
The spacecraft was receding from Earth at a speed of 1.1 miles per second relative to Earth. The spacecraft, just 4.9 feet high, was 4 million times dimmer than the faintest star visible to the unaided eye.
Top of the image is north. Each side of this square image is five arc-minutes, or approximately 0.08 of one degree.
Deep Space 1 was the first mission under NASA’s New Millennium Program testing new technologies for use on future science missions. Among its 12 new technologies were a xenon ion propulsion system, autonomous navigation, a high-efficiency solar array and a miniature camera/spectrometer.
Visit NASA’s Asteroid Watch to learn more about how the agency tracks these celestial bodies.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech