NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2011B-0591

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Proposal Information for 2011B-0591


PI: William J. Merline, Southwest Research Institute, merline@boulder.swri.edu
Address: Space Science and Instrumentation Division, 1050 Walnut St., Ste. 300, Boulder, CO 80302, USA

CoI: Peter M. Tamblyn, Southwest Research Institute
CoI: Benoit Carry, European Space Astronomy Centre
CoI: Jack Drummond, AFRL, Starfire Optical Range
CoI: Al Conrad, Max Planck Institute, Germany
CoI: Clark R. Chapman, Southwest Research Institute
CoI: Julian Christou, Gemini Observatory
CoI: Christophe Dumas, ESO, Chile
CoI: Chris Neyman, W.M Keck Observatory

Title: High-Resolution AO Imaging of Asteroids/Satellites

Abstract: We propose to make high-resolution observations of asteroids using NGS AO, to measure size, shape, and pole position, and to search for satellites. We have demonstrated that AO imaging allows determination of the pole/dimensions in 1 or 2 nights, rather than the years of observations with lightcurve inversion techniques that only yield poles and axial ratios, not true dimensions. Accurately determining the volume from the often-irregular shape allows us to derive densities to greater precision in cases where the mass is known. We just derived a density for (21) Lutetia, prior to the Rosetta flyby, but due to a highly inclined pole, the short (c-) dimension could not be well determined by either us or Rosetta. But we can make the observations this semester to remedy this and get a good density (mass from flyby plus our size/shape). We will also continue our search for satellites around asteroids, particularly for NEOs (we recently accomplished the first-ever optical imaging of an NEO binary [Merline et al. 2008b, IAUC 8977]). Satellites allow an accurate mass to be determined, and also provide a real-life lab for testing collisional models. We will also make deep/close searches for satellites with the NICI imager (which we have now tested), particularly of Ceres, contributing to DAWN mission planning, as we have done for Rosetta.


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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