NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2013A-0465

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Proposal Information for 2013A-0465


PI: Henry Hsieh, University of Hawaii, hsieh@ifa.hawaii.edu
Address: Institute for Astronomy, 2680 Woodlawn Drive, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, United States

CoI: Heather Kaluna, University of Hawaii
CoI: Karen Meech, University of Hawaii

Title: Nucleus Characterization of Main-Belt Comet P/La Sagra

Abstract: We seek SOAR time to physically characterize the nucleus of main- belt comet (MBC) P/2010 R2 (La Sagra). Our primary objectives include determination of P/La Sagra's rotation period, shape, and colors. MBCs are intriguing objects that exhibit cometary activity yet are dynamically indistinguishable from main-belt asteroids. Studying these apparently icy objects so close to the Sun is important for understanding the distribution of volatile material in our solar system as well as the origin of Earth's water. Six MBCs are currently known, where four have at least partially-characterized nuclei, while the others (including P/La Sagra) have yet to be studied in detail. With so little known about this population, it is crucial to determine as many physical properties for the nuclei of as many of the few currently known MBCs as possible. This information will aid in developing a understanding of the population's global characteristics, such as the level of diversity as well as any common trends. This will then help answer larger scientific questions such as how MBCs relate to the background main-belt asteroid population, how abundant MBCs may be, and what they can tell us about the past and present distribution of ice in the inner solar system.


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