Fr.: astéroïde binaire
A member of a population of double objects in the main → Asteroid Belt or the → Kuiper Belt which are gravitationally bound together. So far about 200 such binary systems have been identified, while their number is increasing. 243 Ida was the first binary asteroid to be discovered during the Galileo spacecraft flyby in 1993. Other examples are → Antiope and Kalliope in the main belt and QG298 in the Kuiper Belt. The importance of these objects resides in the fact that systems with well measured orbital parameters allow the total mass to be estimated. If the sizes of the components are known then their densities can be accurately calculated. Density is an important parameter since it yields information about composition and internal structure.