NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2000B-0059

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Proposal Information for 2000B-0059


PI: Richard P. Binzel, MIT, rpb@mit.edu
Address: MS 54-410, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA

CoI: Schelte J. (Bobby) Bus, MIT

Title: Near-Earth Objects: A Multi-Wavelength Population and Exploration Assessment

Abstract: KPNO measurements are the missing component in a multi-wavelength investigation of the near-Earth object (NEO) population involving Keck and IRTF. Achieving the goals of understanding: \hspace*1.5cm ``What is the compositional and size distribution of the NEO population?'' \hspace*1.5cm ``What are the relationships between asteroids, comets, and meteorites?'' requires a correlation between basic composition (visible spectra), mineralogic interpretation (near- infrared spectra), and albedo (thermal flux) data. Approved Keck (thermal) and IRTF (near-IR) programs now leave only KPNO (visible) measurements as the missing component in this first concentrated multi- wavelength attack. A broad sample of objects having known basic compositions, for which RCSP measurements have been proven effective, is the foremost requirement for defining the population from which a subset of multi-wavelength observations will be most diagnostic. This long- term (12 nights over three semesters) program will achieve compositional characterization for 50-100 NEOs, from which 30-50 will be successfully observed at all wavelengths. Correlating albedos to compositional types will allow a \it physically based determination of the NEO size distribution. Spectral and albedo correlations between NEOs and meteorites will give the most convincing asteroid-meteorite matches to date. Neutrally colored, low-albedo objects correlated with elongated orbits will reveal the most promising extinct comet candidates. Further, this program will most explicitly target the most accessible NEOs to provide an exploration assessment for future sample return missions.


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