NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2009B-0260

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Proposal Information for 2009B-0260


PI: Michael F. A'Hearn, University of Maryland, ma@astro.umd.edu
Address: Department of Astronomy, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742

CoI: Beatrice Mueller, Planetary Scicence Institute
CoI: Tony Farnham, University of Maryland
CoI: Nalin Samarasinha, Planetary Science Institute
CoI: Michael J.S. Belton, Belton Space Exploration Initatives

Title: Observations of comet 9P/Tempel 1 in support of NASA's Stardust NExT mission

Abstract: We propose to observe the nucleus of comet 9P/Tempel 1 at large heliocentric distances in two runs in December and November 2009 to obtain high S/N lightcurves. The main goal of this proposal is to support NASA's Stardust NExT mission by pinning down the rotational phase of the nucleus prior to January 2010 to design the spacecraft maneuver to adjust time of arrival at the encounter. The Stardust NExT mission is visiting Tempel 1 and plans to image the crater created by the Deep Impact (DI) spacecraft and re-image the surface seen by DI to assess possible changes. Our observations are part of an international campaign which has another goal of improving the accuracy of the rotation period. By pinning down the rotational phase in December and improving the accuracy of the rotation period by combining new and previous photometry, the uncertainty in the phase of the nucleus of Tempel 1 during the Stardust NExT encounter can be reduced to a level that is small compared to the uncertainty that is due to non- gravitational torques. The latter is estimated to be at the +/- 20\deg level in the nucleus longitude at the Stardust NExT encounter.


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