39382 Opportunity

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39382 Opportunity
Discovery [1]
Discovered by C. J. van Houten
I. van Houten-G.
T. Gehrels
(Palomar–Leiden survey)
Discovery site Palomar Obs.
Discovery date 24 September 1960
MPC designation (39382) Opportunity
Named after
(Mars Exploration Rover)[2]
2696 P-L
main-belt (outer) · Hildian[3]
Orbital characteristics[1]
Epoch 16 February 2017 (JD 2457800.5)
Uncertainty parameter 0
Observation arc 56.13 yr (20,500 days)
Aphelion 4.7596 AU
Perihelion 3.1639 AU
3.9618 AU
Eccentricity 0.2014
7.89 yr (2,880 days)
0° 7m 30s / day
Inclination 2.9016°
Jupiter MOID 0.5917 AU
Jupiter Tisserand parameter 3.0210
Physical characteristics
Dimensions 5±2 km (generic)[4]
7.453±2.290 km[5]

39382 Opportunity, also designated 2696 P-L, is a Hilidan asteroid from the outermost region of the asteroid belt, approximately 7.5 kilometers in diameter. It was discovered on 24 September 1960, by Dutch astronomer couple Ingrid and Cornelis van Houten, as well as Dutch–American astronomer Tom Gehrels. The asteroid was spotted during the Palomar–Leiden survey by examining photographic plates taken at Palomar Observatory, California, United States.[3]

Opportunity orbits the Sun at a distance of 3.2–4.8 AU once every 7 years and 11 months (2,880 days). Its orbit has an eccentricity of 0.20 and an inclination of 3° with respect to the ecliptic.[1] Located in the outermost part of the main-belt, it is a member of the Hilda family, a large group of asteroids that are thought to have originated from the Kuiper belt. They orbit in a 3:2 orbital resonance with the gas giant Jupiter, meaning that for every 2 orbits Jupiter completes around the Sun, a Hildian asteroid will complete 3 orbits.[1] The asteroid's orbit does not cross the path of any of the planets and therefore it will not be pulled out of orbit by Jupiter's gravitational field. As a result of this, it is likely that Opportunity will remain in a stable orbit for thousands of years. As no precoveries were taken, the asteroid's observation arc begins with its discovery observation in 1960.[3]

According to the survey carried out by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer with its subsequent NEOWISE mission, the asteroid measures 7.45 kilometers in diameter and its surface has an albedo of 0.061,[5] typical for dark carbonaceous asteroids. Based on its absolute magnitude of 14.5 and an albedo in the range of 0.05 to 0.25, its diameter can be generically estimated to lie between 3 and 7 kilometers, as an object's diameter increases, when its albedo decreases at a constant absolute magnitude.[4] As of 2016, the asteroid's composition, shape and rotation period remain unknown.[1]

The survey designation "P-L" stands for Palomar–Leiden, named after Palomar Observatory and Leiden Observatory, which collaborated on the fruitful Palomar–Leiden survey in the 1960s. Gehrels used Palomar's Samuel Oschin telescope (also known as the 48-inch Schmidt Telescope), and shipped the photographic plates to Ingrid and Cornelis van Houten at Leiden Observatory where astrometry was carried out. The trio are credited with the discovery of several thousand minor planets.[6]

The minor planet was named after a Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity, following a proposal by the discoverer Ingrid van Houten-Groeneveld.[2] Naming citation was published on 28 September 2004 (M.P.C. 52770).[7] The minor planet 37452 Spirit was named for Opportunity's twin rover, Spirit.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "JPL Small-Body Database Browser: 39382 Opportunity (2696 P-L)" (2016-11-09 last obs.). Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved 2 December 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Schmadel, Lutz D. (2006). Dictionary of Minor Planet Names – (39382) Opportunity, Addendum to Fifth Edition: 2003–2005. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. p. 206. ISBN 978-3-540-34361-5. Retrieved 16 November 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c "39382 Opportunity (2696 P-L)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 16 November 2016. 
  4. ^ a b "Absolute Magnitude (H)". NASA/JPL. Retrieved 16 November 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c Grav, T.; Mainzer, A. K.; Bauer, J.; Masiero, J.; Spahr, T.; McMillan, R. S.; et al. (January 2012). "WISE/NEOWISE Observations of the Hilda Population: Preliminary Results". The Astrophysical Journal. 744 (2): 15. arXiv:1110.0283Freely accessible. Bibcode:2012ApJ...744..197G. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/744/2/197. Retrieved 16 November 2016. 
  6. ^ "Minor Planet Discoverers". Minor Planet Center. 4 September 2016. Retrieved 16 November 2016. 
  7. ^ "MPC/MPO/MPS Archive". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 16 November 2016. 

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