Goldstone radar evidence for short-axis mode non-principal-axis rotation of near-Earth asteroid (214869) 2007 PA8

Marina Brozović, Lance A.M. Benner, Christopher Magri, Daniel J. Scheeres, Michael W. Busch, Jon D. Giorgini, Michael C. Nolan, Joseph S. Jao, Clement G. Lee, Lawrence G. Snedeker, Marc A. Silva, Kenneth J. Lawrence, Martin A. Slade, Michael D. Hicks, Ellen S. Howell, Patrick A. Taylor, Juan A. Sanchez, Vishnu Reddy, Melissa Dykhuis, Lucille Le Corre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


We report radar and optical photometric observations of near-Earth asteroid (214869) 2007 PA8 obtained during October 2–November 13, 2012. We observed 2007 PA8 on sixteen days with Goldstone (8560 MHz, 3.5 cm) and on five days with the 0.6 m telescope at Table Mountain Observatory. Closest approach was on November 5 at a distance of 0.043 au. Images obtained with Goldstone's new chirp system achieved range resolutions as fine as 3.75 m, placing thousands of pixels on the asteroid's surface, and revealing that 2007 PA8 is an elongated, asymmetric object. Surface features include angularities, facets, and a concavity approximately 400 m in diameter. We used the Shape software to estimate the asteroid's 3D shape and spin state. 2007 PA8 has a broad, rounded end and a tapered, angular end with sharp-crested ridges. The asteroid's effective diameter is 1.35 ± 0.07 km, which in combination with the absolute magnitude of 16.30 ± 0.52 gives an optical albedo of pV = 0.29 ± 0.14. The shape modeling of the radar data revealed that 2007 PA8 is a non-principal axis (NPA) rotator in the short-axis mode with an average period of precession by the long axis around the angular momentum vector of 4.26 ± 0.02 days and an oscillatory period around the long axis of 20.55 ± 3.75 days. The amplitude of rolling around the long axis is 42 ± 7° . The angular momentum vector points toward ecliptic longitude and latitude of 273.6 ± 10°, +16.9 ± 5°. 2007 PA8 is only the second confirmed short-axis mode NPA rotator known in the near-Earth asteroid population after (99942) Apophis (Pravec et al., 2014). 2007 PA8 has a geopotential high at the equator, where the equator is defined as the plane that contains the long and intermediate axis. This geopotential extreme could be interpreted as a large, hidden surface depression, or as evidence that 2007 PA8 is a multi-component body.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)314-329
Number of pages16
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


  • Asteroids
  • Radar observations
  • Rotation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Goldstone radar evidence for short-axis mode non-principal-axis rotation of near-Earth asteroid (214869) 2007 PA8'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this