Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso


  • Line DrubeEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_5213-1



Toutatis is a near-Earth asteroid of the Apollo class, with an orbit that crosses Earth’s orbit so that it is classified as a potentially hazardous asteroid. With its 1:4 resonance with Earth’s orbit, it has been observed carefully since 1992 with astronomical telescopes and radar during its close flybys every 4 years. In 2012 it passed by the Earth within just 18 lunar distances, which will be the closest flyby for more than a century. During this flyby the Chinese spacecraft Chang’e 2 observed Toutatis from a distance of less than 1 km and could see details down to a size of a couple of meters.

Toutatis is a stony type asteroid (S (IV)) with a density of about 2.5 g/cm3; it has an elongated shape (4.75 × 1.95 km) and seems to consist primarily of two large pieces, leading to speculation that the asteroid has a rubble-pile structure resulting from a large impact. Toutatis has a slow tumbling rotation with just one rotation per 5.4...


Bioorganic Chemistry Large Impact Large Piece Earth Asteroid Astronomical Telescope 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DLR Institute of Planetary ResearchGerman Aerospace Center (DLR)Berlin-AdlershofGermany