NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2011A-0512

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Proposal Information for 2011A-0512


PI: Cristina A. Thomas, Northern Arizona University, cristina.thomas@nau.edu
Address: Department of Physics and Astronomy, PO Box 6010, Flagstaff, AZ 86011

CoI: David E. Trilling, Northern Arizona University
CoI: Joshua P. Emery, University of Tennessee-Knoxville
CoI: Joseph L. Hora, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Title: Physical Characterization of Warm Spitzer Observed Near-Earth Objects

Abstract: The majority of Near Earth Objects (NEOs) originated in collisions between bodies in the main asteroid belt and have found their way into near Earth space via complex and little understood dynamical interactions. This transport of material from the main belt into the inner Solar System has shaped the histories of the terrestrial planets. However, despite their scientific importance, key characteristics of the NEO population remain largely unexplored; some 99% of all presently known NEOs are essentially uncharacterized. We have an accepted Warm Spitzer Exploration Science Program (PI: Trilling) that allocates 500 hours of Spitzer time to observe ~700 NEOs. We will measure (1) the size distribution of this population; (2) the fraction of NEOs likely to be dead comets; (3) the albedo distribution of NEOs. We propose to gather spectroscopic data from a variety of telescopic facilities in order to physically characterize a significant subset of this Warm Spitzer NEO sample. By combining the size and albedo information from Spitzer with the compositional information from ground- based spectroscopy we hope to shed light on several questions about the evolution and origin of the near-Earth asteroid population.


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