3552 Don Quixote

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3552 Don Quixote
Don Quixote (apmag 15) near perihelion
taken in Pingelly, Australia, 2009
Discovery [1]
Discovered byP. Wild
Discovery siteZimmerwald Obs.
Discovery date26 September 1983
MPC designation(3552) Don Quixote
Named after
Don Quixote fictional character[2]
1983 SA
NEO · Amor[1]
Orbital characteristics[1]
Epoch 4 September 2017 (JD 2458000.5)
Uncertainty parameter 0
Observation arc33.71 yr (12,312 days)
Aphelion7.2783 AU
Perihelion1.2399 AU
4.2591 AU
8.79 yr (3,211 days)
0° 6m 43.56s / day
Earth MOID0.3338 AU
Jupiter MOID0.4397 AU
Physical characteristics
Dimensions18.4±0.4 km[4]
7.7 h (0.32 d)[3][5]
D (Tholen) · D (SMASS)
11.67 (1957) to 22.32[a]

3552 Don Quixote, provisionally designated 1983 SA, is an exceptionally eccentric asteroid, classified as a near-Earth object of the Amor group, Mars-crosser and Jupiter-crosser, as well as a centaur and extinct comet.

Discovery and naming[edit]

The asteroid was discovered on 26 September 1983, by Swiss astronomer Paul Wild at Zimmerwald Observatory near Bern, Switzerland.[6] It was named after the comic knight who is the eponymous hero of Cervantes' Spanish novel Don Quixote (1605).[2] The approved naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center on 2 December 1990 (M.P.C. 17466).[7]

Orbit and characteristics[edit]

Don Quixote is characterized as a dark D-type asteroid in the Tholen and SMASS taxonomy.[1]

It has a highly inclined comet-like orbit of 31 degrees that leads to frequent perturbations by Jupiter.[8] Don Quixote measures 18.4 kilometres in diameter and has a rotation period of 7.7 hours.[1][4]

Due to its comet-like orbit and albedo, Don Quixote has been suspected to be an extinct comet.[9] However, infrared observations with the Spitzer Space Telescope at 4.5 μm revealed a faint coma and tail around the object.[4] The cometary activity is inferred by carbon dioxide (CO
) molecular band emission. In March 2018 a tail was observed at visible wavelengths for the first time.[10] It is still unknown whether the observed activity is persistent or an outburst, resulting from the excavation of sub-surface CO
ice due to a recent impact of a smaller body.


  1. ^ Magnitudes generated with JPL Horizons for the year 1950 through 2100


  1. ^ a b c d e f "JPL Small-Body Database Browser: 3552 Don Quixote (1983 SA)" (2017-05-26 last obs.). Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  2. ^ a b Schmadel, Lutz D. (2007). "(3552) Don Quixote". Dictionary of Minor Planet Names – (3552) Don Quixote. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. p. 298. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-29925-7_3551. ISBN 978-3-540-00238-3.
  3. ^ a b "LCDB Data for (3552) Don Quixote". Asteroid Lightcurve Database (LCDB). Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d Mommert, Michael; Hora, Joseph L.; Harris, Alan W.; Reach, William T.; Emery, Joshua P.; Thomas, Cristina A.; et al. (January 2014). "The Discovery of Cometary Activity in Near-Earth Asteroid (3552) Don Quixote". The Astrophysical Journal. 781 (1): 10. arXiv:1312.0673. Bibcode:2014ApJ...781...25M. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/781/1/25. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  5. ^ "European Asteroid Research Node:(3552) Don Quixote". Archived from the original on 4 February 2012. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  6. ^ "3552 Don Quixote (1983 SA)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  7. ^ "MPC/MPO/MPS Archive". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  8. ^ "JPL Close-Approach Data: 3552 Don Quixote (1983 SA)" (2 May 2009 last obs). Retrieved 6 May 2009.
  9. ^ Lupishko, D. F.; di Martino, M.; Lupishko, T. A. (September 2000). "What the physical properties of near-Earth asteroids tell us about sources of their origin?". Kinematika I Fizika Nebesnykh Tel Supplimen. 3 (3): 213–216. Bibcode:2000KFNTS...3..213L. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  10. ^ Mommert, Michael (March 2018). "CBET 4502: 20180329 : (3552) DON QUIXOTE". Central Bureau of Electronic Telegrams (Harvard) – via Central Bureau of Astronomical Telegrams (Harvard).

External links[edit]