NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2004A-0454

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Proposal Information for 2004A-0454


PI: David E. Trilling, University of Pennsylvania, trilling@astro.upenn.edu
Address: Department of Physics and Astronomy, 209 S. 33rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA

CoI: Andrew S. Rivkin, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
CoI: Timothy B. Spahr, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Title: A search for Mars Trojan asteroids

Abstract: We propose to use the Mosaic camera with the KPNO 0.9-meter telescope to carry out a survey for L4 Trojan asteroids of Mars. Mars is the only planet besides Jupiter with multiple known Trojan (1:1 resonant) objects. There has to date been no dedicated survey for Mars Trojans and, because of the locations of dynamical stability, large ecliptic surveys (LINEAR, Spacewatch, etc.) are unlikely to discover Trojans. Our primary science goal will be to derive, for the first time, empirical sky densities (and therefore the total number) of Mars Trojans larger than 300 meters diameter. Theoretical studies have shown that Mars Trojans may be primordial objects, but their spectral diversity may indicate otherwise. Conservatively, we expect to discover at least 10 new Trojan asteroids in the ~100 deg^2 we will survey in the course of this program. This will increase by a factor of several the number of Mars Trojans - bodies that potentially represent the building blocks of terrestrial planets - available for physical and dynamical studies. Our survey will also allow tests of the Yarkovsky Effect and have implications for the Near Earth Object population. Constraining the population of Mars Trojans will aid our understanding of the Solar System's small bodies, long-term dynamical stability, and potentially the conditions prevailing during planet formation.


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NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2004A-0454

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