1566 Icarus

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1566 Icarus
Discovered by Walter Baade
Discovery date June 27, 1949
Named after
1949 MA
Minor planet category Apollo asteroid,
Mercury-crosser asteroid,
Venus-crosser asteroid,
Mars-crosser asteroid
Orbital characteristics[1]
Epoch August 27, 2011 (JD 2455800.5)
Aphelion 1.9691548727 AU
Perihelion 0.18665203 AU
1.0779034528 AU
Eccentricity 0.82683789
1.1191234523 a (408.7598409 d)
Inclination 22.82825°
Physical characteristics
Dimensions 1.4 km
Mass 2.9×1012 kg
Mean density
2 ? g/cm³
0.000 39 m/s²
0.000 74 km/s
0.094 71 d
Albedo 0.4[2]
Temperature ~242 K
Spectral type
U[citation needed]

1566 Icarus (/ˈɪkərəs/ IK-ə-rəs) is an Apollo asteroid (a subclass of near-Earth asteroid) that at perihelion comes closer to the Sun than Mercury, i.e. it is a Mercury-crossing asteroid. It is also a Venus and Mars-crosser. It is named after Icarus of Greek mythology, who flew too close to the Sun. It was discovered in 1949 by Walter Baade. From 1949 until the discovery of 2000 BD19 in 2000, it was known as the asteroid that passed closest to the Sun. 

Icarus makes close approaches to Earth, in the month of June, at gaps of 9, 19, or 28 years. Rarely, it comes as close as 6.4 Gm (16 lunar distances and 4 million miles), as it did on June 14, 1968. During this approach, Icarus became the first minor planet to be observed using radar, with measurements being performed from the Goldstone Tracking Station.[3] As of 2012, the last close approach was in 1996, at 15.1 Gm, almost 40 times as far as the Moon.[1] The next close approach will be June 16, 2015, at 8.1 Gm (5 million miles).

Project Icarus[edit]

In early 1967, Professor Paul Sandorff from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology gave his students in a systems engineering class the task to devise a plan to destroy Icarus in the case that it was on a collision course with Earth. This plan is known as Project Icarus. Time magazine ran an article on the endeavor in June 1967[4] and the following year the student report was published as a book.[5][6][7] This report was the basis and inspiration for the 1979 science fiction film Meteor.[7][8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "1566 Icarus (1949 MA)". JPL Small-Body Database. Jet Propulsion Laboratory. SPK-ID: 2001566. Retrieved 2011-09-02. 
  2. ^ Veeder, G. J.; et al. (1989). "Radiometry of near-earth asteroids". The Astronomical Journal 97 (4): 1211–9. Bibcode:1989AJ.....97.1211V. doi:10.1086/115064. PMID 11538320. 
  3. ^ Goldstein, R. M. (1968). "Radar Observations of Icarus". Science 162 (3856): 903–4. Bibcode:1968Sci...162..903G. doi:10.1126/science.162.3856.903. PMID 17769079. 
  4. ^ "Systems Engineering: Avoiding an Asteroid", Time Magazine, June 16, 1967.
  5. ^ Kleiman Louis A., Project Icarus: an MIT Student Project in Systems Engineering, Cambridge, Massachusetts : MIT Press, 1968
  6. ^ Project Icarus, MIT Report No. 13, MIT Press 1968, edited by Louis A. Kleiman. "Interdepartmental Student Project in Systems Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Spring Term, 1967"; reissued 1979.
  7. ^ a b Day, Dwayne A., "Giant bombs on giant rockets: Project Icarus", The Space Review, Monday, July 5, 2004
  8. ^ "MIT Course precept for movie", The Tech, MIT, October 30, 1979

External links[edit]