2867 Šteins

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2867 Šteins
2867 Šteins by Rosetta (reprocessed).png
Contrast-enhanced image of Šteins by Rosetta
Discovery [1]
Discovered byN. Chernykh
Discovery siteCrimean Astrophysical Obs.
Discovery date4 November 1969
MPC designation(2867) Šteins
Named after
Kārlis Šteins[1]
(Soviet astronomer)
1969 VC · 1954 QL
1979 FJ4 · 1980 VV1
1980 WB
main-belt[1][2] · (inner)
Orbital characteristics[2]
Epoch 23 March 2018 (JD 2458200.5)
Uncertainty parameter 0
Observation arc66.47 yr (24,279 d)
Aphelion2.7081 AU
Perihelion2.0185 AU
2.3633 AU
3.63 yr (1,327 d)
0° 16m 16.68s / day
Physical characteristics
Dimensions6.83 km × 5.70 km × 4.42 km[5]
Mean diameter
4.92±0.40 km[6]
5.160±0.167 km[7]
6.049 h[8][a]
V–R = 0.510±0.030[12][13]

2867 Šteins, provisional designation 1969 VC, is an irregular, diamond-shaped background asteroid from the inner regions of the asteroid belt, approximately 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) in diameter. It was discovered on 4 November 1969, by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Chernykh at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory in Nauchnij on the Crimean peninsula.[1] In September 2008, ESA's Rosetta probe flew by Šteins, making it one of few minor planets ever visited by a spacecraft. The bright E-type asteroid features 23 named craters and has a rotation period of 6.05 hours.[8] It was named for Soviet astronomer Kārlis Šteins.[1]

Orbit and classification[edit]

Šteins is a non-family asteroid from the main belt's background population.[3][4] It orbits the Sun in the inner asteroid belt at a distance of 2.0–2.7 AU once every 3 years and 8 months (1,327 days; semi-major axis of 2.36 AU). Its orbit has an eccentricity of 0.15 and an inclination of 10° with respect to the ecliptic.[2] The body's observation arc begins with a precovery, taken at the Palomar Observatory in November 1951, or 18 years prior to its official discovery observation.[1]

Rosetta flyby[edit]

Animation of Rosetta's trajectory from 2 March 2004 to 9 September 2016
   Rosetta  ·   67P ·   Earth ·   Mars ·   21 Lutetia  ·   2867 Šteins

On 5 September 2008, the Rosetta space probe flew by Šteins at a distance of 800 km and a relatively slow speed of 8.6 km/s. Despite the short duration of this encounter (approximately 7 minutes in total), a great amount of data was obtained by the 15 scientific instruments operating on board the Rosetta spacecraft.[14] This was the first of two planned asteroid flybys performed by the probe, the second being to the much larger 21 Lutetia in 2010.[15] The timing of the fly-by meant that the asteroid was illuminated by the sun from the perspective of the spacecraft, making the transmitted images clear. The European Space Operations Centre streamed a press conference on Šteins later that day.[16]


This minor planet was named in memory of Kārlis Šteins (1911–1983), a Latvian and Soviet astronomer. He was a long-time observatory director at the University of Latvia in Riga and designed astronomical instruments. Šteins is known for his work on cometary cosmogony and the study of Earth's rotation.[1] The official naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center on 18 September 1986 (M.P.C. 11157).[17]

Features on Šteins[edit]

On 11 May 2012, IAU's Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature announced a naming system for geographical features on Šteins.[18] Inspired by the asteroid's gem-like shape, its crater are given the English-language names of precious stones, with the largest being named Diamond crater (see below).

Except for the montes of Mercury and the lunar maria, the craters of Šteins are the only features in the Solar System whose names are not derived from proper nouns.[19] In addition, a distinct region on the asteroid has been named Chernykh Regio after the discoverer, Nikolai Chernykh.[20]

Physical characteristics[edit]

A study published in 2006 by astronomers at the European Southern Observatory showed that Šteins is an E-type asteroid with a diameter of approximately 4.6 kilometers.[9] After the Rosetta flyby, the ESA described Šteins as a "diamond in the sky", as it has a wide body that tapers into a point. The wide section is dominated by the large Diamond crater with a diameter of 2.1 kilometers, which surprised scientists, who were at first amazed the asteroid survived such an impact,[21] while later it turned out that the crater-to-body diameter ratio of 0.79 is in fact not abnormally large as it follows an already established trend.[22] Besides its irregular in shape, it does not have any moons.[23]

Diameter and albedo[edit]

According to the survey carried out by the NEOWISE mission of NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer and observations by the Spitzer Telescope, Šteins measures 5.16 and 4.92 kilometers in diameter and its surface has an albedo of 0.30 and 0.34, respectively.[6][7] In 2012, the photographs of Šteins taken by Rosetta using stereophotoclinometry allowed scientists to determine that the asteroid's dimensions are 6.83 × 5.70 × 4.42 kilometers, which equates to a mean diameter in volume of 5.26 km.[5] (Asteroid 129167 Dianelambert was later named for the scientist using this 3D-method.) The Collaborative Asteroid Lightcurve Link adopts an albedo of 0.34 and a diameter of 4.9 kilometers with an absolute magnitude of 13.36.[8]

Lightcurves and poles[edit]

Studying the asteroid with Rosetta space probe onboard OSIRIS cameras shortly before its flyby showed via a lightcurve analysis that Šteins has a rotation period of 6.052±0.007 hours.[24][23] The results of the rotational lightcurve agree with ground-based photometric observations of Šteins with a period of 6.049 hours and a brightness amplitude between 0.18 and 0.31 magnitude (U=3/3).[8][10][12][13][25][26][a]

A lightcurve inversion also modeled a concurring sidereal period of 6.04681 hours and determined a spin axis at (250.0°, −89.0°) in ecliptic coordinates (λ, β). The modeling was done by compiling a set of 26 previously obtained visible lightcurves.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Lightcurve plot of 2867 Steins, Palmer Divide Observatory by B. D. Warner (2004). Rotation period of 6.05±0.01 hours with a brightness amplitude of 0.30 mag. Quality code is 3-. Summary figures for (2867) Šteins at the LCDB.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "2867 Steins (1969 VC)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d "JPL Small-Body Database Browser: 2867 Steins (1969 VC)" (2018-05-19 last obs.). Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Asteroid (2867) Steins - Proper elements". AstDyS-2, Asteroids – Dynamic Site. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Asteroid 2867 Steins". Small Bodies Data Ferret. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  5. ^ a b c Jorda, L.; Lamy, P. L.; Gaskell, R. W.; Kaasalainen, M.; Groussin, O.; Besse, S.; et al. (November 2012). "Asteroid (2867) Steins: Shape, topography and global physical properties from OSIRIS observations". Icarus. 221 (2): 1089–1100. Bibcode:2012Icar..221.1089J. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2012.07.035. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d Lamy, P. L.; Jorda, L.; Fornasier, S.; Groussin, O.; Barucci, M. A.; Carvano, J.; et al. (September 2008). "Asteroid 2867 Steins. III. Spitzer Space Telescope observations, size determination, and thermal properties". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 487 (3): 1187–1193. Bibcode:2008A&A...487.1187L. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20078996. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d Mainzer, A. K.; Bauer, J. M.; Cutri, R. M.; Grav, T.; Kramer, E. A.; Masiero, J. R.; et al. (June 2016). "NEOWISE Diameters and Albedos V1.0". NASA Planetary Data System. Bibcode:2016PDSS..247.....M. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d e f "LCDB Data for (2867) Šteins". Asteroid Lightcurve Database (LCDB). Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  9. ^ a b c Fornasier, S.; Belskaya, I.; Fulchignoni, M.; Barucci, M. A.; Barbieri, C. (April 2006). "First albedo determination of 2867 Steins, target of the Rosetta mission" (PDF). Astronomy and Astrophysics. 449 (2): L9–L12. arXiv:astro-ph/0602631. Bibcode:2006A&A...449L...9F. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20064913. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  10. ^ a b Hicks, M. D.; Bauer, J. M.; Tokunaga, A. T. (April 2004). "(2867) Steins IAUC 8315". IAU Circ. (8315). Bibcode:2004IAUC.8315....3H. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  11. ^ Belskaya, I. N.; Fornasier, S.; Tozzi, G. P.; Gil-Hutton, R.; Cellino, A.; Antonyuk, K.; et al. (March 2017). "Refining the asteroid taxonomy by polarimetric observations". Icarus. 284: 30–42. Bibcode:2017Icar..284...30B. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2016.11.003. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  12. ^ a b Weissman, Paul R.; Lowry, Stephen C.; Choi, Young-Jun (August 2005). "CCD Photometry of Asteroid 2867 Steins: Flyby Target of the Rosetta Mission". American Astronomical Society. 37: 644. Bibcode:2005DPS....37.1528W. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  13. ^ a b Dotto, E.; Perna, D.; Fornasier, S.; Belskaya, I. N.; Barucci, M. A.; Shevchenko, V. G.; et al. (February 2009). "Photometric and spectroscopic investigation of 2867 Steins, target of the Rosetta mission. Ground-based results prior to the Rosetta fly-by". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 494 (3): L29–L32. Bibcode:2009A&A...494L..29D. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:200811340. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  14. ^ "Encounter of a different kind: Rosetta observes asteroid at close quarters". ESA Rosetta News. Archived from the original on 10 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-29.
  15. ^ M. A. Barucci; M. Fulchignoni & A. Rossi (2007). "Rosetta Asteroid Targets: 2867 Steins and 21 Lutetia". Space Science Reviews. 128 (1–4): 67–78. Bibcode:2007SSRv..128...67B. doi:10.1007/s11214-006-9029-6.
  16. ^ Talevi, Monica (September 4, 2008). "Rosetta Steins fly-by timeline". European Space Agency. Retrieved 2008-09-05.
  17. ^ "MPC/MPO/MPS Archive". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  18. ^ "First Names Approved for Asteroid (2867) Steins". USGS–Astrogeology Science Center. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  19. ^ "Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature–Categories for Naming Features on Planets and Satellites". IAU–Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN). Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  20. ^ "Target: Steins". IAU–Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN). Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  21. ^ "Steins: A diamond in the sky". ESA Rosetta News. Retrieved 2009-05-29.
  22. ^ Burchell, M. J.; Leliwa-Kopystynski, J. (December 2010). "The large crater on the small Asteroid (2867) Steins". Icarus. 210 (2): 707–712. Bibcode:2010Icar..210..707B. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2010.07.026. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  23. ^ a b Michael Küppers; Uwe Keller; Rita Schulz; Gerhard Schwehm (20 March 2007). "OSIRIS camera on Rosetta obtains 'light curve' of asteroid Steins". European Space Agency. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  24. ^ Küppers, M.; Mottola, S.; Lowry, S. C.; A'Hearn, M. F.; Barbieri, C.; Barucci, M. A.; et al. (January 2007). "Determination of the light curve of the Rosetta target asteroid (2867) Steins by the OSIRIS cameras onboard Rosetta" (PDF). Astronomy and Astrophysics. 462 (1): L13–L16. arXiv:astro-ph/0612097. Bibcode:2007A&A...462L..13K. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20066694. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  25. ^ Warner, Brian D. (September 2004). "Lightcurve analysis for numbered asteroids 301, 380, 2867, 8373, 25143, and 31368". The Minor Planet Bulletin. 31 (3): 67–70. Bibcode:2004MPBu...31...67W. ISSN 1052-8091. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  26. ^ Weissman, P. R.; Lowry, S. C.; Choi, Y.-J. (May 2007). "Photometric observations of Rosetta target asteroid 2867 Steins" (PDF). Astronomy and Astrophysics. 466 (2): 737–742. arXiv:astro-ph/0702339. Bibcode:2007A&A...466..737W. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20066409. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  27. ^ Lamy, P. L.; Kaasalainen, M.; Lowry, S.; Weissman, P.; Barucci, M. A.; Carvano, J.; et al. (September 2008). "Asteroid 2867 Steins. II. Multi-telescope visible observations, shape reconstruction, and rotational state". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 487 (3): 1179–1185. Bibcode:2008A&A...487.1179L. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20078995. Retrieved 31 August 2018.

External links[edit]