Asteroid 1566 Icarus' size, shape, orbit, and Yarkovsky drift from radar observations [EPA]

Near-Earth asteroid (NEA) 1566 Icarus ($a=1.08$ au, $e=0.83$, $i=22.8^{\circ}$) made a close approach to Earth in June 2015 at 22 lunar distances (LD). Its detection during the 1968 approach (16 LD) was the first in the history of asteroid radar astronomy. A subsequent approach in 1996 (40 LD) did not yield radar images. We describe analyses of our 2015 radar observations of Icarus obtained at the Arecibo Observatory and the DSS-14 antenna at Goldstone. These data show that the asteroid has an equivalent diameter of 1.44 km with 18\% uncertainties, resolving long-standing questions about the asteroid size. We also solve for Icarus’ spin axis orientation ($\lambda=270^{\circ}\pm10^{\circ}, \beta=-81^{\circ}\pm10^{\circ}$), which is not consistent with the estimates based on the 1968 lightcurve observations. Icarus has a strongly specular scattering behavior, among the highest ever measured in asteroid radar observations, and a radar albedo of $\sim$2\%, among the lowest ever measured in asteroid radar observations. The low cross-section suggests a high-porosity surface, presumably related to Icarus’ cratering, spin, and thermal histories. Finally, we present the first use of our orbit determination software for the generation of observational ephemerides, and we demonstrate its ability to determine subtle perturbations on NEA orbits by measuring Icarus’ orbit-averaged drift in semi-major axis ($(-4.62\pm0.48) \times 10^{-4}$ au/My, or $\sim$60 m per revolution). Our Yarkovsky rate measurement resolves a discrepancy between two published rates that did not include the 2015 radar astrometry.

Read this paper on arXiv…

A. Greenberg, J. Margot, A. Verma, et. al.
Fri, 23 Dec 16

Comments: 19 pages, 6 figures