Radar and optical observations and physical modeling of triple near-Earth Asteroid (136617) 1994 CC

Marina Brozović, Lance A.M. Benner, Patrick A. Taylor, Michael C. Nolan, Ellen S. Howell, Christopher Magri, Daniel J. Scheeres, Jon D. Giorgini, Joseph T. Pollock, Petr Pravec, Adrián Galád, Julia Fang, Jean Luc Margot, Michael W. Busch, Michael K. Shepard, Daniel E. Reichart, Kevin M. Ivarsen, Joshua B. Haislip, Aaron P. LaCluyze, Joseph JaoMartin A. Slade, Kenneth J. Lawrence, Michael D. Hicks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


We report radar, photometric, and spectroscopic observations of near-Earth Asteroid (136617) 1994 CC. The radar measurements were obtained at Goldstone (8560MHz, 3.5cm) and Arecibo (2380MHz, 12.6cm) on 9days following the asteroid's approach within 0.0168AU on June 10, 2009. 1994 CC was also observed with the Panchromatic Robotic Optical Monitoring and Polarimetry Telescopes (PROMPT) on May 21 and June 1-3. Visible-wavelength spectroscopy was obtained with the 5-m Hale telescope at Palomar on August 25. Delay-Doppler radar images reveal that 1994 CC is a triple system; along with (153591) 2001 SN263, this is only the second confirmed triple in the near-Earth population. Photometry obtained with PROMPT yields a rotation period for the primary P=2.38860±0.00009h and a lightcurve amplitude of ∼0.1mag suggesting a shape with low elongation. Hale telescope spectroscopy indicates that 1994 CC is an Sq-class object. Delay-Doppler radar images and shape modeling reveal that the primary has an effective diameter of 0.62±0.06km, low pole-on elongation, few obvious surface features, and a prominent equatorial ridge and sloped hemispheres that closely resemble those seen on the primary of binary near-Earth Asteroid (66391) 1999 KW4. Detailed orbit fitting reported separately by Fang et al. (Fang, J., Margot, J.-L., Brozovic, M., Nolan, M.C., Benner, L.A.M., Taylor, P.A. [2011]. Astron. J. 141, 154-168) gives a mass of the primary of 2.6×1011kg that, coupled with the effective diameter, yields a bulk density of 2.1±0.6gcm-3. The images constrain the diameters of the inner and outer satellites to be 113±30m and 80±30m, respectively. The inner satellite has a semimajor axis of ∼1.7km (∼5.5 primary radii), an orbital period of ∼30h, and its Doppler dispersion suggests relatively slow rotation, 26±12h, consistent with spin-orbit lock. The outer satellite has an orbital period of ∼9days and a rotation period of 14±7h, establishing that the rotation is not spin-orbit locked. Among all binary and triple systems observed by radar, at least 25% (7/28) have a satellite that rotates more rapidly than its orbital period. This suggests that asynchronous configurations with Protation<Porbital are relatively common among multiple systems in the near-Earth population. 1994 CC's outer satellite has an observed maximum separation from the primary of ∼5.7km (∼18.4 primary radii) that is the largest separation relative to primary radius seen to date among all 36 known binary and triple NEA systems. 1994 CC, (153591) 2001 SN263, and 1998 ST27 are the only triple and binary systems known with satellite separations >10 primary radii, suggesting either a detection bias, or that such widely-separated satellites are relatively uncommon in NEA multiple systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-256
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Asteroids
  • Near-Earth objects
  • Radar observations
  • Satellites of asteroids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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