Letter to the Editor
Determination of the light curve of the Rosetta target asteroid (2867) Steins by the OSIRIS cameras onboard Rosetta*
Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung, Germany e-mail: email@example.com
2 Institute of Planetary Research, DLR, Germany
3 Astrophysics Research Centre, Queen's University Belfast, UK
4 Department of Astronomy, University of Maryland, USA
5 Dipartimento di Astronomia and CISAS, Università di Padova, Italy
6 University of Paris 7, France
7 Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille, France
8 Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía – CSIC, Spain
Accepted: 30 November 2006
Context.In 2004 asteroid (2867) Steins has been selected as a flyby target for the Rosetta mission. Determination of its spin period and the orientation of its rotation axis are essential for optimization of the flyby planning.
Aims.Measurement of the rotation period and light curve of asteroid (2867) Steins at a phase angle larger than achievable from ground based observations, providing a high quality data set to contribute to the determination of the orientation of the spin axis and of the pole direction.
Methods.On March 11, 2006, asteroid (2867) Steins was observed continuously for 24 h with the scientific camera system OSIRIS onboard Rosetta. The phase angle was 41.7 degrees, larger than the maximum phase angle of 30 degrees when Steins is observed from Earth. A total of 238 images, covering four rotation periods without interruption, were acquired.
Results.The light curve of (2867) Steins is double peaked with an amplitude of ≈0.23 mag. The rotation period is h. The continuous observations over four rotation periods exclude the possibility of period ambiguities. There is no indication of deviation from a principal axis rotation state. Assuming a slope parameter of , the absolute visual magnitude of Steins is .
Key words: minor planets, asteroids / techniques: photometric
© ESO, 2007