NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2014A-0496

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Proposal Information for 2014A-0496


PI: Aren Heinze, Stony Brook University, ariheinze@hotmail.com
Address: Physics Department, 100 Nicolls Rd, Stony Brook, NY 11790, USA

CoI: Stanimir Metchev, University of Western Ontario

Title: The Deepest Asteroid Survey Ever: Collisional Processes and the Source of Near-Earth Asteroids

Abstract: The sky motions of main belt asteroids blur their images on exposures longer than two minutes. Increasing exposure beyond this does not allow the detection of fainter asteroids. This limit prevents even 8m telescopes such as Subaru from discovering new asteroids with apparent magnitudes fainter than R ~ 24. Digital tracking is a proven yet little-used method to defeat the exposure limit and allow very long integrations for the discovery of faint asteroids by summing many shorter exposures. We propose to use all-night digital tracking integrations on a 4m telescope to discover asteroids down to R ~ 26, \textbfa factor of 5 fainter than Subaru's single-exposure limit. Our observations will measure positions, motions, and fluxes for hundreds of main belt asteroids too faint to be detected by any previous survey, and thus will probe main belt asteroid populations in \textbfa size regime that is currently completely unexplored. Such very small main belt asteroids are of great interest as products of collisional processes in the asteroid belt and as a source population for near-earth asteroids and meteorites. \textbfNo existing archival data meets the requirements for sensitive digital tracking observations (e.g. wide- field imager, 6-hour single band integration, ecliptic field, <=2 minute individual exposures). New observations such as those we propose herein are essential for the detection of new, extremely faint asteroids.


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