PI: Beatrice E.A. Mueller, NOAO, email@example.com
Address: 950 N. Cherry Ave., Tucson, AZ 85719, USA
CoI: Nalin H. Samarasinha, NOAO
Title: Nuclear Lightcurve Observations of Short Period Comets
Abstract: We propose to continue to observe rotational lightcurves of the nuclei of several short period comets where the nuclear flux dominates over any coma contribution. Our immediate goal is to derive rotational periods for these comets. Lower limits for axial ratios and upper limits for effective nuclear cross sections (for a known or assumed albedo) will also be calculated. During the 2001B semester our candidate comets are 9P/Tempel 1, 30P/Reinmuth 1, 90P/Gehrels 1, and C/2000 K2 LINEAR. 9P/Tempel 1 is also a target for NASA's Deep Impact mission with a launch date of January 2004. Understanding the rotational parameters of a significant sample of short period comets, when taken individually and/or collectively, will allow us to (1) facilitate accurate interpretation of many observations of comae and nuclei, enabling us to understand the character of nuclear activity; (2) provide estimates to the structural parameters of cometary nuclei thus constraining the formation mechanisms of comets in the solar nebula and the corresponding environment of the solar nebula itself; (3) serve as a necessary reservoir of inputs to studies on cometary spin-orbit coupling and non-gravitational forces which help us understand physical and dynamical evolution; and (4) facilitate future studies of ensemble nuclear properties of comets and TNOs.
National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 950 North Cherry Avenue, P.O. Box 26732, Tucson, Arizona 85726, Phone: (520) 318-8000, Fax: (520) 318-8360