On 15 February 2013, the asteroid 367943 Duende (2012 DA14) experienced a near-Earth encounter at an altitude of 27,700 km or 4.2 Earth radii. We present here the results of an extensive, multi-observatory campaign designed to probe for spectral and/or rotational changes to Duende due to gravitational interactions with the Earth during the flyby. Our spectral data reveal no changes within systematic uncertainties. Post-flyby lightcurve photometry places strong constraints on the rotation state of Duende, showing that it is in non-principal axis rotation with fundamental periods of P1 = 8.71 ± 0.03 and P2 = 23.7 ± 0.2 h. Multiple lightcurve analysis techniques, coupled with theoretical considerations and delay-Doppler radar imaging, allow us to assign these periods to specific rotational axes of the body. In particular we suggest that Duende is now in a non-principal, short axis mode rotation state with a precessional period equal to P1 and oscillation about the symmetry axis at a rate equal to P2. Temporal and signal-to-noise limitations inherent to the pre-flyby photometric dataset make it difficult to definitively diagnose whether these periods represent a change imparted due to gravitational torques during the flyby. However, based on multiple analysis techniques and a number of plausibility arguments, we suggest that Duende experienced a rotational change during the planetary encounter with an increase in its precessional rotation period. Our preferred interpretation of the available data is that the precession rate increased from 8.4 h prior to the flyby to 8.7 h afterwards. A companion paper by Benson et al. (2019) provides a more detailed dynamical analysis of this event and compares the data to synthetic lightcurves computed from a simple shape model of Duende. The interpretation and results presented in these two works are consistent with one another. The ultimate outcome of this campaign suggests that the analytic tools we employed are sufficient to extract detailed information about solid-body rotation states given data of high enough quality and temporal sampling. As current and future discovery surveys find more near-Earth asteroids, the opportunities to monitor for physical changes during planetary encounters will increase.
- Pub Date:
- April 2020
- Near-Earth objects;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- 50 pages (double spaced), 12 figures, 5 tables, accepted to Icarus