NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2009B-0361

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Proposal Information for 2009B-0361


PI: Yanga Fernandez, University of Central Florida, yan@physics.ucf.edu
Address: Department of Physics, 4000 Central Florida Blvd, Orlando, FL 32816-2385, U.S.A.

CoI: Humberto Campins, University of Central Florida
CoI: Javier Licandro, Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias
CoI: Michael Kelley, University of Maryland

Title: Studying the Nucleus of Nearly-Dead Comet 107P/Wilson-Harrington

Abstract: Comet 107P/Wilson-Harrington returns in 2009 for its first favorable apparition since 1992 and its closest approach to Earth since 1979. This comet is at the end of its active life; activity has only been seen once, in 1949. Thus 107P is a vital comet to study if we are to answer questions about the physical evolution of comets. Specifically it can give us clues about the evolution of surface properties as a comet passes from its active state to a dormant or extinct state. Such knowledge is crucial if we are to understand how many comets become dormant or extinct (vs. other possible end-states), and how many dormant/extinct comets exist among the NEA population. We request service-observing to address two science goals: (a) We will determine if 107P has any remnant low-level activity, and thereby put (at least) upper limits on transient gas and dust production rates while the comet is near perihelion; and (b) we will measure the comet's phase-law darkening and thereby derive the scattering properties using the parameterization of Hapke.


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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