Michael Braukus Headquarters, Washington, D.C. May 25, 1994 (Phone: 202/358-1547) James H.

Wilson Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. (Phone: 818/354-5011) RELEASE: 94-83 NEW GALILEO ASTEROID MOON IMAGES, DATA RELEASED New pictures of the asteroid 243 Ida and its newly discovered moon taken by NASA's Galileo spacecraft were released today by mission scientists. New data from Galileo suggest that although Ida and its natural satellite -- the first asteroid moon ever photographed -- are similar in color and brightness, they appear to be composed of different types of material, the scientists said. The scientists also reported that new results show that Ida is more irregular in shape than Gaspra, another asteroid which the Galileo spacecraft encountered two years earlier. Galileo took multiple images of Ida seen from different angles as the asteroid rotated during the spacecraft encounter. Scientists also used the images to begin estimating an orbit for the asteroid's tiny moon. Its motion, in the same direction as Ida's rotation, appears to be in a plane viewed nearly edge-on by the spacecraft -- making it difficult to determine the exact orbital shape and period.

"A circular orbit at 60 miles (90 kilometers), nearly in Ida's equatorial plane, with a period of about one Earth day, appears to fit the observations we have now," said Kenneth P. Klaasen, a member of the imaging team. "However, a range of elliptical orbits cannot be ruled out yet," he added. "Other observations that are still on Galileo's onboard tape recorder -- to be played back next month -- should permit us to improve the calculation." - more -2There are different explanations for the origin of Ida's one mile-diameter (1.5-kilometer) moon. It might be a large block thrown off during an impact that formed one of the large craters visible on Ida's surface. "More likely," said imaging team member Dr. Clark Chapman, "the moon was formed during the cataclysmic fragmentation and disruption of a larger asteroid in which Ida itself was formed. "In this scenario, the little moon was ejected from the explosion in practically the same orbit as Ida, and was captured in the larger object's gravitational field," Chapman continued, "while most other fragments went into independent orbits around the Sun." Galileo's near-infrared mapping spectrometer, which initially confirmed the discovery of Ida's moon, provided the data for thermal and mineralogical maps of the surface of Ida and mineralogical studies of its moon. "We have good data on what minerals make up these bodies, " said Dr. Robert Carlson, principal investigator for the spectrometer. "The areas on Ida's surface where we have our best data appear to be predominantly olivine, with a bit of orthopyroxene -- while its moon is quite different, with a roughly equal mixture of olivine, orthopyroxene and clinopyroxene." "This suggests the moon is not a chip off the asteroid." These and other results from the Ida encounter will be discussed by the Galileo scientists in a special session of the

American Geophysical Union's spring 1994 meeting in Baltimore, Md., on Thursday, May 26. Ida orbits the Sun at an average distance of 270 million miles (440 million kilometers) in about the middle of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The asteroid is about 36 miles (58 kilometers) long and 14 miles (23 kilometers) wide, and rotates once every 4 hours, 40 minutes. One of only two asteroids ever observed close-up, it was encountered Aug. 28, 1993, by the Galileo spacecraft on its way to Jupiter. Pictures and other scientific data taken during the flyby were stored on Galileo's onboard tape recorder; playback is still underway. Ida's moon was discovered in data played back and analyzed in February and March 1994. Galileo executed its other asteroid flyby, of the rocky body Gaspra, on Oct. 29, 1991. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Galileo project for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. -end-