PI: Michael A'Hearn, University of Maryland, firstname.lastname@example.org
Address: Astronomy Department, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742-2421, USA
CoI: Beatrice Mueller, Planetary Science Institute
CoI: Tony Farnham, University of Maryland
CoI: Nalin Samarasinha, Planetary Science Instittue
Title: Cometary science bonanza: Comet 103P/Hartley 2's very close approach to Earth and EPOXI mission flyby
Abstract: Comet 103P/Hartley 2 will have a very close approach to Earth (perigee is at 0.12 AU on October 20) and NASA's EPOXI mission will encounter the comet on November 4. This rare occurrence will be observable from the ground and is a unique opportunity to characterize a Jupiter-family cometary nucleus and its coma in unprecedented details. We are asking for four observing runs from September to December to characterize as many of the comet's physical properties as possible. These include the rotation rate of the nucleus and the orientation of its spin axis, the spatial and temporal variations in the gas and dust emission, and the locations of any active regions on the nucleus. These observations will also be taken in support of the EPOXI mission. As the field of views of the spacecraft cameras will be very small (albeit with high resolution) around the encounter, simultaneous ground-based observations are essential to get the best science return and to put the spacecraft images into broader spatial context. We have been successfully supporting spacecraft missions with ground-based observations in the past.
National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 950 North Cherry Avenue, P.O. Box 26732, Tucson, Arizona 85726, Phone: (520) 318-8000, Fax: (520) 318-8360