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399 Persephone

A relatively small asteroid, rather irregular in shape, but estimated to be some forty to fifty kilometres in diameter. Persephone orbits in the outer fringes of the Asteroid Belt, averaging some three Astronomical Units from the Sun, an orbit it completes in a period of five years and four months. Persephone rotates on its axis in a little over nine hours, and though its physical structure is not known in detail, spectral analysis suggests that it may be rich in metallic elements.

The asteroid Persephone was discovered in 1895, and takes its name from a figure in Greek mythology, a daughter of Zeus and Demeter who became queen of the underworld. In fact, this same mythological figure had had her own asteroid for more than forty years when the asteroid Persephone was discovered: asteroid number 26 was identified in 1853 and was named Proserpina, which was the name given to Persephone by the Romans. (The asteroid Proserpina is about twice the size of Persephone, and orbits through the more central regions of the Asteroid Belt.)


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