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China

Submission + - First Details of Chinese Spacecraft's Asteroid Encounter

the_newsbeagle writes: Chinese aerospace engineers have revealed, for the first time, details about their Chang’e-2 spacecraft’s encounter with the asteroid Toutatis last month. They have plenty to boast of: The asteroid flyby wasn’t part of the original flight plan, but engineers adapted the mission and navigated the satellite through deep space.

Exactly how close Chang'e-2 came to Toutatis is still unclear. The article states that the first reports “placed the flyby range at 3.2 km, which was astonishingly—even recklessly—tight. Passing within a few kilometers of an asteroid only 2 to 3 km in diameter at a speed of 10 730 meters per second could be described as either superb shooting or a near disaster.” If the Chinese spacecraft did pass that near, it could provide a “scientific bonanza” with data about the asteroid’s mass and composition.
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First Details of Chinese Spacecraft's Asteroid Encounter

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