NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2005A-0504

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Proposal Information for 2005A-0504


PI: David E. Trilling, University of Arizona, trilling@as.arizona.edu
Address: Steward Observatory, 933 N. Cherry Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85711, USA

CoI: Andrew S. Rivkin, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
CoI: Timothy B. Spahr, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
CoI: Carl W. Hergenrother, University of Arizona
CoI: Stephen J. Kortenkamp, Planetary Science Institute

Title: A search for L5 Trojan asteroids of Mars

Abstract: We propose to use the Mosaic camera with the KPNO 0.9-meter telescope to carry out a search for L5 Trojan asteroids of Mars. Mars is the only planet besides Jupiter with multiple known Trojan (1:1 resonant) objects. However, because the locations of dynamical stability correspond to high-inclination orbits, 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 100 meters diameter. Theoretical studies have shown that Mars Trojans may be primordial objects, but their spectral diversity may indicate otherwise. We expect to discover tens of new Trojan asteroids in the ~200 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.


National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 950 North Cherry Avenue, P.O. Box 26732, Tucson, Arizona 85726, Phone: (520) 318-8000, Fax: (520) 318-8360



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