NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2010A-0226

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Proposal Information for 2010A-0226


PI: Beatrice Mueller, Planetary Science Institute, mueller@psi.edu
Address: 1700 E. Ft. Lowell Rd., Suite 106, Tucson, AZ 85719

CoI: Tony Farnham, University of Maryland
CoI: Nalin Samarasinha, Planetary Science Institute
CoI: Michael A'Hearn, University of Maryland

Title: Imaging of the Stardust target, comet 81P/Wild 2 at its best perigee in 60 years: A unique opportunity.

Abstract: We propose to image comet 81P/Wild 2 with broad-band R and narrow- band HB comet filters during its closest perigee passage between its discovery in 1978 and 2041 to characterize its nucleus and activity. This is the closest apparition in time as well as in geocentric distance to the successful Stardust spacecraft encounter in 2004. Our emphasis is to derive coma morphology for dust and gas species. We will also use the repeating coma features to derive its rotation period. Wild 2 was badly placed for ground-based observations near perihelion during the spacecraft encounter in 2004 (see figure 1). Our proposed observations are therefore vital to put the spacecraft data into a broader context and derive a comprehensive picture of the nucleus and its activity. Wild 2 was observed from the ground around perihelion in 1997 by Co- I Farnham and his colleague (Farnham and Schleicher 2005). The observing geometry in 1997 was significantly different from our proposed observations and we will characterize the nucleus and its activity more completely and in more detail and compare the results with the 1997 apparition to assess any evolutionary effects.


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



NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2010A-0226

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