Key Facts

  • Classified as a Apollo-class Asteroid
  • Comparable in size to Mount Everest (1.65 km diameter)
  • Will pass within 6,641,842 km of Earth in 2038
  • Classified as a Near Earth Asteroid (NEA)
  • Classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA)
  • See orbit simulation

Overview

Tantalus is a small asteroid whose orbit crosses the orbit of Earth. NASA JPL has classified Tantalus as a "Potentially Hazardous Asteroid" due to its predicted close pass(es) with Earth.

Tantalus orbits the sun every 535 days (1.47 years), coming as close as 0.90 AU and reaching as far as 1.68 AU from the sun. Tantalus is about 1.6 kilometers in diameter, making it larger than most asteroids, comparable in size to Mount Everest.

The rotation of Tantalus has been observed. It completes a rotation on its axis every 2.38 days.

Tantalus's spectral type (Tholen) / Q (SMASSII) indicates that it is likely to contain nickel-iron.

Close Approaches

Tantalus's orbit is 0.04 AU from Earth's orbit at its closest point. This means that there is an wide berth between this asteroid and Earth at all times.

Tantalus has 8 close approaches predicted in the coming decades:

Date Distance from Earth (km) Velocity (km/s)
Dec. 27, 2038 6,641,842 33.430
Dec. 23, 2060 14,830,526 34.283
Jan. 2, 2080 26,917,672 32.617
Dec. 29, 2101 10,539,128 33.161
Dec. 27, 2123 7,795,996 33.816
Dec. 22, 2145 23,621,816 34.942
Dec. 31, 2164 17,268,561 32.911
Dec. 28, 2186 5,529,374 33.613

Images and Observations

Tantalus's orbit is determined by observations dating back to Dec. 30, 1975. It was last officially observed on June 28, 2017. The IAU Minor Planet Center records 1,086 observations used to determine its orbit.

Accessibility and Exploration

This asteroid is not considered a viable target for human exploration by the NHATS study.

Similar Objects

These objects have orbits that share similar characteristics to the orbit of Tantalus:

References

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Orbital Elements

  • Epoch: 2458600.5 JD
  • Semi-major axis: 1.29009974093 AU
  • Eccentricity: 0.299181507586
  • Inclination: 64.0068976116°
  • Longitude of Ascending Node: 94.3624465057°
  • Argument of Periapsis: 61.5393980819°
  • Mean Anomaly: 172.941129514°

Physical Characteristics

  • Diameter: 1.64900 km
  • Magnitude: 16.0
  • Albedo: 0.245
  • Spectral type (SMASS): Q

Derived Characteristics

  • Orbit Period: 535 days (1.47 years)
  • Avg. Orbit Speed: 26.22 km/s
  • Aphelion Distance: 1.68 AU
  • Perihelion Distance: 0.90 AU
  • Rotation Period: 2.38 days
  • Approx. Composition: nickel-iron.

Size Comparison

Orbit Simulation

Sky Map

The position of Tantalus is indicated by a ◯ pink circle. Note that the object may not be in your current field of view. Use the controls below to adjust position, location, and time.