Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023|
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object is rocket, not asteroid
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A mysterious object temporarily orbiting Earth is a 54-year-old rocket, not an asteroid after all, astronomers confirmed Wednesday.
Observations by a telescope in Hawaii clinched its identity, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
The object was classified as an asteroid after its discovery in September. But NASA’s top asteroid expert, Paul Chodas, quickly suspected it was the Centaur upper rocket stage from Surveyor 2, a failed 1966 moon-landing mission. Size estimates had put it in the range of the old Centaur, which was about 32 feet long and 10 feet in diameter.
Chodas was proven right after a team led by the University of Arizona’s Vishnu Reddy used an infrared telescope in Hawaii to observe not only the mystery object, but — just on Tuesday — a Centaur from 1971 still orbiting Earth. The data from the images matched.
“Today’s news was super gratifying!,” Chodas said via email. “It was teamwork that wrapped up this puzzle.”
The object formally known as 2020 SO entered a wide, lopsided orbit around Earth last month and, on Tuesday, made its closest approach at just over 31,000 miles.
Police chief acknowledges OT abuse by virus units
HONOLULU (AP) — Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard said her department takes responsibility for the actions of officers on its now-suspended coronavirus enforcement units who are accused of abusing the department’s overtime policy.
Ballard confirmed Monday in a statement on social media that multiple investigations are being conducted about the officers accused of submitting as many as 300 overtime hours in one week.
Ballard also criticized state lawmakers for not amending a state law that makes violations of coronavirus-related health orders a misdemeanor.
The police department “believes that a fine would have accomplished the desired change in public behavior without flooding the courts,” Ballard wrote.
Fewer than one in 50 citations issued on Oahu for violating public health orders related to the pandemic resulted in convictions.
Law enforcement officials suspended the coronavirus enforcement units after the officials were told that 59 officers on the task force had been flagged in an audit for overtime violations.
At least 10 officers logged 200 or more hours of overtime during a five-week period.
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