Contact: Erin Carver
Columbia, Md., July 14, 2014 - As of July 12, 2014, Asteroid 8798 will be known as Asteroid Tarantino. The asteroid was named in memory of Dr. Frederick A. Tarantino, who served as USRA President from 2006 to 2014. As president of USRA, his management included the planetary radar at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas, and a wide array of research activities and programs spanning the disciplines in space science and technology.
The honor was bestowed upon Tarantino by the International Astronomical Union after his passing on June 9, 2014. The announcement was published in a recent issue of the Minor Planet Circular. "Naming the asteroid after Fred is a lasting tribute to his legacy as a champion of science," says USRA President and CEO, Dr. Donald Kniffen.
The asteroid was first observed on May 2, 1976 and most recently observed on May 27, 2014. Asteroid Tarantino orbits relatively close to the sun at a distance of 3.646 astronomical units (about 338 million miles) in the outer reaches of the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. MIT professor and former colleague of Tarantino, Dr. Richard Binzel, remarked that "Fred is remembered in a place where the Sun is always shining."
Figure: An excerpt from the NASA JPL Small-Body Database Browser describing the orbital elements of Asteroid Tarantino.
Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is an independent, nonprofit research corporation where the combined efforts of in-house talent and university-based expertise merge to advance space science and technology. USRA works across disciplines including biomedicine, astrophysics, and engineering and integrates those competencies into applications ranging from fundamental research to facility management and operations. USRA engages the creativity and authoritative expertise of the research community to develop and deliver sophisticated, forward-looking solutions to Federal agencies and other customers - on schedule and within budget.
An excerpt from the NASA JPL Small-Body Database Browser describing the orbital elements of Asteroid Tarantino.