Killer asteroids : feasibility of using the IRTF to track near-earth objects
Author(s)Shah, Kaya (Kaya Y.)
Feasibility of using the IRTF to track near-earth objects
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.
Richard P. Binzel.
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The possibility of an asteroid or comet impact necessitates the tracking and cataloging of all such objects which could potentially impact Earth. Currently, no comprehensive catalog of Near Earth Objects (NEOs) exists which contains information on the physical properties of the objects. Spectroscopic observation of NEOs must be carried out in an efficient and timely manner in order to determine the physical properties of NEOs for this catalog. The cumulative fractions of objects visible at certain magnitudes were examined and compared for the NEOs discovered in 2005 at discovery, those at the first quarter moon following discovery, and all known NEOs in 1, 3, 5, and 10 year forecasted surveys to determine the best combination of Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) instrumentation, telescope observation time, and survey length. This thesis finds that the IRTF instrumentation should be improved to at least 19.5 to spectroscopically observe 57% of the objects discovered in 2005. Furthermore, spectroscopic observation of the objects should not occur at the first quarter moon immediately after discovery, as is currently the case, because as much as ~15% of the objects discovered in 2005 cannot be observed at this time. As survey length is increased, the fraction of objects that can be observed at the IRTF's current limiting magnitude also increase; thus it is best to conduct the survey as long as possible. Additionally, spectroscopic observation of the objects should be carried out every 7 days in order to gather the most information. Lastly, it is best to spectroscopically observe the objects within 7 days of discovery because the objects are generally discovered when they are at their closest possible approach to the Earth.
Thesis: S.B., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, 2006.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (page 31).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.