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39382 Opportunity, also designated 2696 P-L, is a dark Hilidan asteroid from the outermost region of the asteroid belt, approximately 7.5 kilometers in diameter. Discovered during the Palomar–Leiden survey at Palomar Observatory in 1960, it was named for NASA's Opportunity Mars rover.[2]

39382 Opportunity
Discovery [1]
Discovered byC. J. van Houten
I. van Houten-G.
T. Gehrels
Discovery sitePalomar Obs.
Discovery date24 September 1960
MPC designation(39382) Opportunity
Named after
Opportunity (rover)
(Mars Exploration Rover)[2]
2696 P-L
main-belt · (outer)[1] · Hildian[3]
Orbital characteristics[1]
Epoch 4 September 2017 (JD 2458000.5)
Uncertainty parameter 0
Observation arc56.34 yr (20,579 days)
Aphelion4.7586 AU
Perihelion3.1642 AU
3.9614 AU
7.88 yr (2,880 days)
0° 7m 30s / day
Jupiter MOID0.5914 AU
Physical characteristics
Dimensions7 km (generic at 0.05)[4]
7.453±2.290 km[5]


Opportunity was discovered on 24 September 1960, by Dutch astronomer couple Ingrid and Cornelis van Houten, as well as Dutch–American astronomer Tom Gehrels from photographic plates taken at the Palomar Observatory, California, United States.[3]

Survey designationEdit

The survey designation "P-L" stands for "Palomar–Leiden", named after Palomar Observatory and Leiden Observatory, which collaborated on the fruitful Palomar–Leiden survey in the 1960s. Gehrels used Palomar's Samuel Oschin telescope (also known as the 48-inch Schmidt Telescope), and shipped the photographic plates to Ingrid and Cornelis van Houten at Leiden Observatory where astrometry was carried out. The trio are credited with the discovery of several thousand minor planets.[6]

Orbit and classificationEdit

Located in the outermost part of the main-belt, Opportunity is a member of the Hilda family, a large group of asteroids that are thought to have originated from the Kuiper belt. They orbit in a 3:2 orbital resonance with the gas giant Jupiter, meaning that for every 2 orbits Jupiter completes around the Sun, a Hildian asteroid will complete 3 orbits.[1]

Opportunity orbits the Sun at a distance of 3.2–4.8 AU once every 7 years and 11 months (2,880 days). Its orbit has an eccentricity of 0.20 and an inclination of 3° with respect to the ecliptic.[1] The asteroid's orbit does not cross the path of any of the planets and therefore it will not be pulled out of orbit by Jupiter's gravitational field. As a result of this, it is likely that the asteroid will remain in a stable orbit for thousands of years.

The body's observation arc begins with its official discovery observation, as no precoveries were taken and no prior identifications were made.[3]

Physical characteristicsEdit

Diameter and albedoEdit

According to the survey carried out by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer with its subsequent NEOWISE mission, Opportunity measures 7.45 kilometers in diameter and its surface has an albedo of 0.061,[5] which is typical for carbonaceous asteroids. A generic magnitude-to-diameter conversion, gives a diameter of 7 kilometers, for an absolute magnitude of 14.5 and an assumed albedo of 0.05.[4]


As of 2017, the asteroid's composition, shape and rotation period remain unknown.[1][7]


This minor planet was named after a Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity, following a proposal by the discoverer Ingrid van Houten-Groeneveld.[2] The approved naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center on 28 September 2004 (M.P.C. 52770).[8] The minor planet 37452 Spirit was named for Opportunity's twin rover, Spirit.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "JPL Small-Body Database Browser: 39382 Opportunity (2696 P-L)" (2017-01-27 last obs.). Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Schmadel, Lutz D. (2006). "(39382) Opportunity [3.96, 0.20, 2.9]". Dictionary of Minor Planet Names – (39382) Opportunity, Addendum to Fifth Edition: 2003–2005. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. p. 206. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-34361-5_2426. ISBN 978-3-540-34361-5.
  3. ^ a b c "39382 Opportunity (2696 P-L)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Absolute Magnitude (H)". NASA/JPL. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  5. ^ a b c Grav, T.; Mainzer, A. K.; Bauer, J.; Masiero, J.; Spahr, T.; McMillan, R. S.; et al. (January 2012). "WISE/NEOWISE Observations of the Hilda Population: Preliminary Results". The Astrophysical Journal. 744 (2): 15. arXiv:1110.0283. Bibcode:2012ApJ...744..197G. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/744/2/197. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  6. ^ "Minor Planet Discoverers". Minor Planet Center. 4 September 2016. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  7. ^ "LCDB Data for (39382) Opportunity". Asteroid Lightcurve Database (LCDB). Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  8. ^ "MPC/MPO/MPS Archive". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 16 November 2016.

External linksEdit