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Shining light on thermophysical Near-Earth Asteroid modeling efforts

Published in:
1st NEO and Debris Detection Conf., 22-24 January 2019.

Summary

Comprehensive thermophysical analyses of Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) provide important information about their physical properties, including visible albedo, diameter, composition, and thermal inertia. These details are integral to defining asteroid taxonomy and understanding how these objects interact with the solar system. Since infrared (IR) asteroid observations are not widely available, thermophysical modeling techniques have become valuable in simulating properties of different asteroid types. Several basic models that assume a spherical asteroid shape have been used extensively within the research community. As part of a program focused on developing a simulation of space-based IR sensors for asteroid search, the Near-Earth Asteroid Model (NEATM) developed by Harris, A. in 1998, was selected. This review provides a full derivation of the formulae behind NEATM, including the spectral flux density equation, consideration of the solar phase angle, and the geometry of the asteroid, Earth, and Sun system. It describes how to implement the model in software and explores the use of an ellipsoidal asteroid shape. It also applies the model to several asteroids observed by NASA's Near-Earth Object Wide-field Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) and compares the performance of the model to the observations.
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Summary

Comprehensive thermophysical analyses of Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) provide important information about their physical properties, including visible albedo, diameter, composition, and thermal inertia. These details are integral to defining asteroid taxonomy and understanding how these objects interact with the solar system. Since infrared (IR) asteroid observations are not widely available, thermophysical...

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SST asteroid search performance 2014-2017

Summary

From 2014 to 2017, the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program performed wide-area asteroid search using the 3.5-m Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) located on Atom Peak at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. The SST was developed by MIT Lincoln Laboratory (MIT/LL) for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to advance the nation's capabilities in space situational awareness. LINEAR asteroid search using SST was funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). During three years of asteroid search operations, the SST had more than 14 million observations accepted by the Minor Planet Center (MPC) and contributed to the discovery of 142 previously unknown near-Earth objects (NEOs). This paper provides a summary of SST asteroid search performance during the three years of operation at Atom Peak, and describes performance improvements achieved through processing software upgrades, refinements in search strategy, and hardware upgrades such as the successful installation of Wide-Field Camera 2 (WFC-2) in summer 2016.
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Summary

From 2014 to 2017, the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program performed wide-area asteroid search using the 3.5-m Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) located on Atom Peak at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. The SST was developed by MIT Lincoln Laboratory (MIT/LL) for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to...

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Asteroid search operations with the Space Surveillance Telescope

Summary

Over the past two years, the Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program, funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), has transitioned to asteroid search operations using the new 3.5-meter wide-field-of-view Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) located at the Atom Site on White Sands Missile Range, N.M. The SST was developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) by MIT Lincoln Laboratory to help advance the nation's capabilities in space situational awareness. The goals of LINEAR using SST are to continue discovering Near-Earth objects (NEOs) especially focusing on improving knowledge of asteroids 140 meters in diameter and larger. In this paper, we will review results of the first two years of asteroid search operations, during which the SST has delivered over 9.4 million observations to the Minor Planet Center. Recent and planned system improvements will also be discussed.
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Summary

Over the past two years, the Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program, funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), has transitioned to asteroid search operations using the new 3.5-meter wide-field-of-view Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) located at the Atom Site on White Sands Missile Range, N.M. The SST...

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Exploring the variable sky with LINEAR : photometric recalibration with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey

Published in:
Astronomical J., Vol. 142, No. 6, December 2011.

Summary

We describe photometric recalibration of data obtained by the asteroid survey LINEAR. Although LINEAR was designed for astrometric discovery of moving objects, the data set described here contains over 5 billion photometric measurements for about 25 million objects, mostly stars. We use Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) data from the overlapping ~10,000 deg2 of sky to recalibrate LINEAR photometry and achieve errors of 0.03 mag for sources not limited by photon statistics with errors of 0.2 mag at r ~ 18. With its 200 observations per object on average, LINEAR data provide time domain information for the brightest four magnitudes of the SDSS survey. At the same time, LINEAR extends the deepest similar wide-area variability survey, the Northern Sky Variability Survey, by 3 mag.We briefly discuss the properties of about 7000 visually confirmed periodic variables, dominated by roughly equal fractions of RR Lyrae stars and eclipsing binary stars, and analyze their distribution in optical and infrared color?color diagrams. The LINEAR data set is publicly available from the SkyDOT Web site.
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Summary

We describe photometric recalibration of data obtained by the asteroid survey LINEAR. Although LINEAR was designed for astrometric discovery of moving objects, the data set described here contains over 5 billion photometric measurements for about 25 million objects, mostly stars. We use Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) data from the...

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Pre-discovery observations of disrupting asteroid P/2010 A2

Published in:
Astronom. J., Vol. 142, No. 29, July 2011.

Summary

Solar system object P/2010 A2 is the first-noticed example of the aftermath of a recently disrupted asteroid, probably resulting from a collision. Nearly a year elapsed between its inferred initiation in early 2009 and its eventual detection in early 2010. Here, we use new observations to assess the factors underlying the visibility, especially to understand the delayed discovery. We present pre-discovery observations from the LINEAR telescope and set limits to the early-time brightness from SOHO and STEREO satellite coronagraphic images. Consideration of the circumstances of discovery of P/2010 A2 suggests that similar objects must be common, and that future all-sky surveys will reveal them in large numbers.
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Summary

Solar system object P/2010 A2 is the first-noticed example of the aftermath of a recently disrupted asteroid, probably resulting from a collision. Nearly a year elapsed between its inferred initiation in early 2009 and its eventual detection in early 2010. Here, we use new observations to assess the factors underlying...

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Detecting asteroids with a multi-hypothesis velocity matched filter

Published in:
ACM 2008, 10th Asteroids, Comets Meteors Mtg., 14-18 July 2008.

Summary

We present a novel approach to image processing for optical detection of faint asteroids. Traditional methods of asteroid detection require observations in multiple frames taken over a period of time, but are limited by the signal-to-noise ratio in a single frame. Our approach is based on a velocity matched filter (VMF), which combines the signal from multiple frames in order to increase the aggregate SNR for dim objects. By generating a series of hypotheses about the apparent velocities of potential objects, we create a set of highly sensitive velocity-specific filters, the results of which are combined to achieve complete coverage of the search space. Each filter collapses a set of sidereal frames into a single frame through a shifted sum operation, thus aggregating the signal from the entire frameset and increasing SNR for objects matching the hypothesized velocity. We also present additional signal processing steps designed to filter out a variety of noise sources such as stars, spacecraft, and background gradients.
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Summary

We present a novel approach to image processing for optical detection of faint asteroids. Traditional methods of asteroid detection require observations in multiple frames taken over a period of time, but are limited by the signal-to-noise ratio in a single frame. Our approach is based on a velocity matched filter...

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Bias-corrected population, size distribution, and impact hazard for the near-Earth objects

Published in:
Icarus, Vol. 170, No. 2, August 2004, pp. 295-311.

Summary

Utilizing the largest available data sets for the observed taxonomic and albedo distributions of the near-Earth object population, we model the bias-corrected population. Diameter-limited fractional abundances of the taxonomic complexes are A-0.2%; C-10%, D-17%, O-0.5%, Q-14%, R-0.1%, S-22%, U-0.4%, V-1%, X-34%. In a diameter-limited sample, ~30% of the NEO population has jovian Tisserand parameter less than 3, where the D-types and X-types dominate. The large contribution from the X-types is surprising and highlights the need to better understand this group with more albedo measurements. Combining the C, D, and X complexes into a "dark" group and the others into a "bright" group yields a debiased darkto- bright ratio of ~1.6. Overall, the bias-corrected mean albedo for the NEO population is 0.14 +/-0.02, for which an H magnitude of 17.8 +/-0.1 translates to a diameter of 1 km, in close agreement with Morbidelli et al. Coupling this bias corrected taxonomic and albedo model with the H magnitude dependent size distribution of yields a diameter distribution with 1090 +/-180 NEOs with diameters larger than 1 km. As of 2004 June, the Spaceguard Survey has discovered 56% of the NEOs larger than 1 km. Using our size distribution model, and orbital distribution of we calculate the frequency of impacts into the Earth and the Moon. Globally destructive collisions (~10 ^21 J) of asteroids 1 km or larger strike the Earth once every 0.60 +/-0.1 Myr on average. Regionally destructive collisions with impact energy greater than 4 x 10 ^18 J (~200 m diameter) strike the Earth every 56,000 +/-6000 yr. Collisions in the range of the Tunguska event (4-8 x 10^16 J) occur every 2000-3000 yr. These values represent the average time between randomly spaced impacts; actual impacts could occur more or less closely spaced solely by chance. As a verification of these impact rates, the crater production function of Shoemaker et al. has been updated by combining this new population model with a crater formation model to find that the observed crater production function on both the Earth and Moon agrees with the rate of crater production expected from the current population of NEOs.
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Summary

Utilizing the largest available data sets for the observed taxonomic and albedo distributions of the near-Earth object population, we model the bias-corrected population. Diameter-limited fractional abundances of the taxonomic complexes are A-0.2%; C-10%, D-17%, O-0.5%, Q-14%, R-0.1%, S-22%, U-0.4%, V-1%, X-34%. In a diameter-limited sample, ~30% of the NEO population...

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Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Program (LINEAR)

Published in:
Icarus J., Vol. 148, No. 1, November 2000, pp. 21-28.

Summary

The Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program has applied electro-optical technology developed for Air Force Space Surveillance applications to the problem of discovering near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) and comets. This application is natural due to the commonality between the surveillance of the sky for man-made satellites and the search for near-Earth objects (NEOs). Both require the efficient search of broad swaths of sky to detect faint, moving objects. Currently, the Air Force Ground-based Electro-Optic Deep Space Surveillance (GEODSS) systems, which operate as part of the worldwide U.S. space surveillance network, are being upgraded to state-of-the-art charge-coupled device (CCD) detectors. These detectors are based on recent advances made by MIT Lincoln Laboratory in the fabrication of large format, highly sensitive CCDs. In addition, state-of-the-art data processing algorithms have been developed to employ the new detectors for search operations. In order to address stressing space surveillance requirements, the Lincoln CCDs have a unique combination of features, including large format, high quantum efficiency, frame transfer, high readout rate, and low noise, not found on any commercially available CCD. Systems development for the GEODSS upgrades has been accomplished at the Lincoln Laboratory Experimental Test Site (ETS) located near Socorro, New Mexico, over the past several years. Starting in 1996, the Air Force funded a small effort to demonstrate the effectiveness of the CCD and broad area search technology when applied to the problem of finding asteroids and comets. This program evolved into the current LINEAR program, which is jointly funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and NASA. LINEAR, which started full operations in March of 1998, has discovered through September of 1999, 257 NEAs (of 797 known to date), 11 unusual objects (of 44 known), and 32 comets. Currently, LINEAR is contributing ~70% of the worldwide NEA discovery rate and has single-handedly increased the observations submitted to the Minor Planet Center by a factor of 10. This paper covers the technology used by the program, the operations, and the detailed results of the search efforts.
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Summary

The Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program has applied electro-optical technology developed for Air Force Space Surveillance applications to the problem of discovering near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) and comets. This application is natural due to the commonality between the surveillance of the sky for man-made satellites and the search for near-Earth...

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The Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) Program

Published in:
Lincoln Laboratory Journal, Vol. 11, No. 1, 1998, pp. 27-40.

Summary

Lincoln Laboratory has been developing electro-optical space-surveillance technology to detect, characterize, and catalog satellites for more than forty years. Recent advances in highly sensitive, large-format charge-coupled devices (CCDs) allow this technology to be applied to detecting and cataloging asteroids, including near-Earth objects (NEOs). When equipped with a new Lincoln Laboratory focal-plane camera and signal processing technology, the 1-m U.S. Air Force ground-based electro-optical deep-space surveillance (GEODSS) telescopes can conduct sensitive large-coverage searches for Earth-crossing and main-belt asteroids. Field measurements indicate that these enhanced telescopes can achieve a limiting magnitude of 22 over a 2-deg2 field of view with less than 100 sec of integration. This sensitivity rivals that of much larger telescopes equipped with commercial cameras. Working two years under U.S. Air Force sponsorship, we have developed technology for asteroid search operations at the Lincoln Laboratory Experimental Test Site near Socorro, New Mexico. By using a new large-format 2560 X 1960-pixel frame-transfer CCD camera, we have discovered over 10,000 asteroids, including 53 NEOs and 4 comets as designated by the Minor Planet Center (MPC). In March 1998, the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program provided over 150,000 observations of asteroids--nearly 90% of the world's asteroid observations that month--to the MPC, which resulted in the discovery of 13 NEOs and 1 comet. The MPC indicates that the LINEAR program outperforms all asteroid search programs operated to date.
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Summary

Lincoln Laboratory has been developing electro-optical space-surveillance technology to detect, characterize, and catalog satellites for more than forty years. Recent advances in highly sensitive, large-format charge-coupled devices (CCDs) allow this technology to be applied to detecting and cataloging asteroids, including near-Earth objects (NEOs). When equipped with a new Lincoln Laboratory...

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Optimal searches for asteroids

Published in:
ICARUS, Vol. 57, No. 2, February 1984, pp. 259-266.

Summary

Optimal searches for a fixed object are discussed and the rigorous analytical results of discrete search theory are presented. They show that the totally optimal, the uniformly optimal, the locally optimal, and the fastest searches are identical under not too restrictive assumptions. The mathematical formalism is illustrated by an Earth-approaching asteroid search and optimal searches for such objects are explicitly constructed. The approximation that Earth-approaching asteroids are fixed is equivalent to having a very high (>or=100 square degrees/hr) search rate. Generalizations to other types of astronomical search are briefly mentioned.
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Summary

Optimal searches for a fixed object are discussed and the rigorous analytical results of discrete search theory are presented. They show that the totally optimal, the uniformly optimal, the locally optimal, and the fastest searches are identical under not too restrictive assumptions. The mathematical formalism is illustrated by an Earth-approaching...

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