(163693) 2003 CP20

163693 Atira
Arecibo discovery image of orbiting satellite taken on 20 January 2017
Discovered byLINEAR
Discovery siteLincoln Lab ETS
Discovery date11 February 2003
(163693) Atira
Pawnee: [ətíɾəʔ]
Named after
Atíraʼ "my/our mother"[1] (Pawnee epithet of the earth goddess)[2]
2003 CP20
Orbital characteristics[3]
Epoch 23 March 2018 (JD 2458200.5)
Uncertainty parameter 0
Observation arc14.21 yr (5,192 d)
Aphelion0.9798 AU
Perihelion0.5024 AU
0.7411 AU
233 days
1° 32m 41.64s / day
Known satellites1[4][5][6][7]
  • D: 1.0±0.3 km
  • P: 15.5 h
  • Type: synchronous
Earth MOID0.2076 AU (80.88 LD)
Physical characteristics
Mean diameter
4.8±0.5 km[4][5][6][7]
3.3984±0.0006 h[7]
0.0231 (derived)[7]
S (assumed)[7]

163693 Atira /əˈtɪrə/, provisional designation 2003 CP20, is a stony asteroid, dwelling in the interior of Earth's orbit. It is classified as a near-Earth object. Atira is a binary asteroid, a system of two asteroids orbiting their common barycenter. The primary component with a diameter of approximately 4.8 kilometers (3 miles)[7] is orbited by a minor-planet moon that measures about 1 km (0.6 mi).[4] Atira was discovered on 11 February 2003, by astronomers with the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research at Lincoln Laboratory's Experimental Test Site near Socorro, New Mexico, in the United States.[1][9]

It is the namesake and the first numbered body of the Atira asteroids, a new subclass of near-Earth asteroids, which have their orbits entirely within that of Earth and are therefore alternatively called Interior-Earth Objects (IEO).[3][10][11] As of 2019, there are only 36 known members of the Atira group of asteroids.[12] Atiras are similar to the larger group of Aten asteroids, as both are near-Earth objects and both have a semi-major axis smaller than that of Earth (< 1.0 AU). However, and contrary to Aten asteroids, the aphelion for Atiras is always smaller than Earth's perihelion (< 0.983 AU),[13] which means that they do not approach Earth as close as Atens do in general. Atira has an Earth minimum orbit intersection distance of 0.2059 AU (30,800,000 km) or approximately 80.1 lunar distances.[3]

Physical properties[]

Atira is a S-type asteroid and orbits the Sun at a distance of 0.5–1.0 AU once every 8 months (233 days). Its orbit has an eccentricity of 0.32 and an inclination of 26° with respect to the ecliptic.[3] With a perihelion of 0.50 AU the body also classifies as a Venus-crosser – as Venus orbits the Sun at a distance of 0.72–0.73 AU – but does not get as close to the Sun as Mercury (which orbits between 0.31 and 0.47 AU). As no precoveries were found, Atira's observation arc begins with its discovery observation in 2003.[1] It has a rotation period of 3.3984 hours with a brightness variation of 0.36 magnitude (U=2) and a very low albedo of 0.0231.[7]

With a diameter of 4.8 kilometers, Atira is one of the largest Near-Earth objects. Early estimates of its size ranged from 1 to 2 kilometers,[9] but those were based on an assumed higher albedo of 0.20. Its larger size and low albedo were discovered when Atira was imaged by radar in early 2017.[4] These radar images also revealed that Atira is a binary asteroid.

Binary system[]

Arecibo follow-up observations from 23 January 2017

Atira came within 0.207 AU (31,000,000 km) from Earth in January 2017, the closest since its discovery in 2003.[3] This provided an opportunity to study the asteroid by radar. Images taken at Arecibo Observatory on 20 January 2017 revealed that Atira is a synchronous binary asteroid with a minor-planet moon in orbit.[4][6] The primary with a diameter of 4.8±0.5 km is possibly elongated and very angular in shape. The secondary is tidally locked and has a diameter of 1.0±0.3 km. Additional images taken on 23 January 2017 showed that the two components are orbiting each other at a distance of about 6 km with an orbital period of 15.5 hours.[4][5]

Atira class[]

Knowing that traditionally the first known object in a new class of asteroids will become the name of the new class of asteroids, due consideration was given to the name for (163693). The other classes of near-Earth asteroids are Amors, Apollos, and Atens (as mentioned above), named after a Roman, Greek, and Egyptian god, so a preference was given to a god or goddess beginning with the letter "A".[citation needed] Given (163693) was discovered by the LINEAR program which operates out of the southwestern United States, preference was also given to a name of local origin.[citation needed] The minor planet was named after Atiraʼ [ətíɾəʔ], an epithet of the Earth goddess of the Native American Pawnee people. Atiraʼ is the wife of the creator god, Tirawa, and goddess of Earth and the evening star.[1][14] The official naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center on 22 January 2008 (M.P.C. 61768).[15]

See also[]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "163693 Atira (2003 CP20)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  2. ^ Douglas Parks & Lula Pratt, A Dictionary of Skiri Pawnee, University of Nebraska Press, 2008. atira, AISRI Dictionary Database Search, Indiana University.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "JPL Small-Body Database Browser: 163693 Atira (2003 CP20)" (2017-04-30 last obs.). Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Discovery Announcement of Binary System (163693) Atira". Arecibo Observatory. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Johnston, Wm. Robert (19 February 2017). "Asteroids with Satellites Database – (163693) Atira". Johnston's Archive. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Rivera-Valentin, E. G.; Taylor, P. A.; Virkki, A.; Aponte-Hernandez, B. (January 2017). "(163693) Atira". Central Bureau Electronic Telegrams. 4347: 1. Bibcode:2017CBET.4347....1R.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h "LCDB Data for (163693) Atira". Asteroid Lightcurve Database (LCDB). Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  8. ^ "(163693) Atira – PHYSICAL INFORMATION". NEODyS: Near Earth Objects – Dynamic Site. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  9. ^ a b "Lincoln Laboratory discovers inner Earth orbit asteroids". Lincoln Observatory, MIT. Archived from the original on 10 October 2015. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  10. ^ Wm. Robert Johnston (24 August 2006). "Names of Solar System objects and features". Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  11. ^ Shoemaker, E. M. (December 1982). "Asteroid and comet bombardment of the earth". Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences. 11: 461–494. Bibcode:1983AREPS..11..461S. doi:10.1146/annurev.ea.11.050183.002333.
  12. ^ de la Fuente Marcos, Carlos; de la Fuente Marcos, Raúl (1 August 2019). "Understanding the evolution of Atira-class asteroid 2019 AQ3, a major step towards the future discovery of the Vatira population". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 487 (2): 2742–2752. arXiv:1905.08695. Bibcode:2019MNRAS.487.2742D. doi:10.1093/mnras/stz1437.
  13. ^ "NEO Groups". Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Archived from the original on 2 February 2002. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  14. ^ "Ancient Gods & Goddesses". www.godfinder.org. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  15. ^ "MPC/MPO/MPS Archive". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 21 April 2018.

External links[]