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Now showing items 1 - 16 of 1660

  • Spitzer Observations of Interstellar Object 1I/'Oumuamua

    Trilling, David E.   Mommert, Michael   Hora, Joseph L.   Farnocchia, Davide   Chodas, Paul   Giorgini, Jon   Smith, Howard A.   Carey, Sean   Lisse, Carey M.   Werner, Michael   McNeill, Andrew   Chesley, Steven R.   Emery, Joshua P.   Fazio, Giovanni   Fernandez, Yanga R.   Harris, Alan   Marengo, Massimo   Mueller, Michael   Roegge, Alissa   Smith, Nathan   Weaver, H. A.   Meech, Karen   Micheli, Marco  

    1I/'Oumuamua is the first confirmed interstellar body in our solar system. Here we report on observations of `Oumuamua made with the Spitzer Space Telescope on 2017 November 21-22 (UT). We integrated for 30.2 hr at 4.5 mu m (IRAC channel 2). We did not detect the object and place an upper limit on the flux of 0.3 mu Jy (3a). This implies an effective spherical diameter less than [98, 140, 440] m and albedo greater than [0.2, 0.1, 0.01] under the assumption of low, middle, or high thermal beaming parameter eta, respectively. With an aspect ratio for 'Oumuamua of 6:1, these results correspond to dimensions of [240:40, 341:57, 1080:180] m, respectively. We place upper limits on the amount of dust, CO, and CO2 coming from this object that are lower than previous results; we are unable to constrain the production of other gas species. Both our size and outgassing limits are important because 'Oumuamua's trajectory shows non-gravitational accelerations that are sensitive to size and mass and presumably caused by gas emission. We suggest that 'Oumuamua may have experienced low-level postperihelion volatile emission that produced a fresh, bright, icy mantle. This model is consistent with the expected eta value and implied high-albedo value for this solution, but, given our strict limits on CO and CO2, requires another gas species-probably H2O-to explain the observed non-gravitational acceleration. Our results extend the mystery of 'Oumuamua's origin and evolution.
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  • Simultaneous Mass Determination for Gravitationally Coupled Asteroids

    Baer, James   Chesley, Steven R.  

    The conventional least-squares asteroid mass determination algorithm allows us to solve for the mass of a large subject asteroid that is perturbing the trajectory of a smaller test asteroid. However, this algorithm is necessarily a first approximation, ignoring the possibility that the subject asteroid may itself be perturbed by the test asteroid, or that the encounter's precise geometry may be entangled with encounters involving other asteroids. After reviewing the conventional algorithm, we use it to calculate the masses of 30 main-belt asteroids. Compared to our previous results, we find new mass estimates for eight asteroids (11 Parthenope, 27 Euterpe, 51 Neimausa, 76 Freia, 121 Hermione, 324 Bamberga, 476 Hedwig, and 532 Herculina) and significantly more precise estimates for six others (2 Pallas, 3 Juno, 4 Vesta, 9 Metis, 16 Psyche, and 88 Thisbe). However, we also find that the conventional algorithm yields questionable results in several gravitationally coupled cases. To address such cases, we describe a new algorithm that allows the epoch state vectors of the subject asteroids to be included as solve-for parameters, allowing for the simultaneous solution of the masses and epoch state vectors of multiple subject and test asteroids. We then apply this algorithm to the same 30 main-belt asteroids and conclude that mass determinations resulting from current and future high-precision astrometric sources (such as Gaia) should conduct a thorough search for possible gravitational couplings and account for their effects.
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  • The impact trajectory of asteroid 2008 TC3

    Farnocchia, Davide   Jenniskens, Peter   Robertson, Darrel K.   Chesley, Steven R.   Dimare, Linda   Chodas, Paul W.  

    The impact of asteroid 2008 TC3 was an unprecedented event the first ever predicted impact of a near Earth object. When it was first detected about 20 h before impact, 2008 TC3 was still farther away than the Moon. Once it was recognized as an impactor and announced as such, 2008 TC3 began to receive considerable attention from astronomical observers. Using the unprecedented dataset of nearly 900 astrometric observations and the latest observation debiasing and weighting techniques, we estimate the precise trajectory of 2008 TC3 and its impact ground track. At the entry point into the atmosphere, the 3-sigma formal uncertainty in predicted position is an ellipse only 1.4 km x 0.15 km in size. The locations of the many meteorites recovered from the desert floor mark the asteroid's actual ground track and provide a unique opportunity to validate trajectory models. We find that the second-order zonal harmonics of the Earth gravity field moves the ground track by more than 1 km and the location along the ground track by more than 2 km, while non-zonal and higher order harmonics change the impact prediction by less than 20 m. The contribution of atmospheric drag to the trajectory of 2008 TC3 is similar to the numerical integration error level, a few meters, down to an altitude of 50 km. Integrating forward to lower altitudes and ignoring the break-up of 2008 TC3, atmospheric drag causes an along -track deviation that can be as large as a few kilometers at sea level. (C) 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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  • Near-Earth Object Orbit Linking with the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope

    Veres, Peter   Chesley, Steven R.  

    We have conducted a detailed simulation of the ability of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) to link near-Earth and main belt asteroid detections into orbits. The key elements of the study were a high-fidelity detection model and the presence of false detections in the form of both statistical noise and difference image artifacts. We employed the Moving Object Processing System (MOPS) to generate tracklets, tracks, and orbits with a realistic detection density for one month of the LSST survey. The main goals of the study were to understand whether (a) the linking of near-Earth objects (NEOs) into orbits can succeed in a realistic survey, (b) the number of false tracks and orbits will be manageable, and (c) the accuracy of linked orbits would be sufficient for automated processing of discoveries and attributions. We found that the overall density of asteroids was more than 5000 per LSST field near opposition on the ecliptic, plus up to 3000 false detections per field in good seeing. We achieved 93.6% NEO linking efficiency for H < 22 on tracks composed of tracklets from at least three distinct nights within a 12 day interval. The derived NEO catalog was comprised of 96% correct linkages. Less than 0.1% of orbits included false detections, and the remainder of false linkages stemmed from main belt confusion, which was an artifact of the short time span of the simulation. The MOPS linking efficiency can be improved by refined attribution of detections to known objects and by improved tuning of the internal kd-tree linking algorithms.
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  • The trajectory and atmospheric impact of asteroid 2014 AA

    Farnocchia, Davide   Chesley, Steven R.   Brown, Peter G.   Chodas, Paul W.  

    Near-Earth asteroid 2014 AA entered the Earth's atmosphere on 2014 January 2, only 21 h after being discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey. In this paper we compute the trajectory of 2014 AA by combining the available optical astrometry, seven ground-based observations over 69 min, and the International Monitoring System detection of the atmospheric impact infrasonic airwaves in a least-squares orbit estimation filter. The combination of these two sources of observations results in a tremendous improvement in the orbit uncertainties. The impact time is 3:05 UT with a 1 sigma uncertainty of 6 min, while the impact location corresponds to a west longitude of 44.2 degrees and a latitude of 13.1 degrees with a 1 sigma uncertainty of 140 km. The minimum impact energy estimated from the infrasound data and the impact velocity result in an estimated minimum mass of 22.6 t. By propagating the trajectory of 2014 AA backwards we find that the only window for finding precovery observations is for the three days before its discovery. (C) 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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  • Orbit and bulk density of the OSIRIS-REx target Asteroid (101955) Bennu

    Chesley, Steven R.   Farnocchia, Davide   Nolan, Michael C.   Vokrouhlicky, David   Chodas, Paul W.   Milani, Andrea   Spoto, Federica   Rozitis, Benjamin   Benner, Lance A.M.   Bottke, William F.   Busch, Michael W.   Emery, Joshua P.   Howell, Ellen S.   Lauretta, Dante S.   Margot, Jean-Luc   Taylor, Patrick A.  

    The target asteroid of the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, (101955) Bennu (formerly 1999 RQ 36), is a half-kilometer near-Earth asteroid with an extraordinarily well constrained orbit. An extensive data set of optical astrometry from 1999 to 2013 and high-quality radar delay measurements to Bennu in 1999, 2005, and 2011 reveal the action of the Yarkovsky effect, with a mean semimajor axis drift rate da/dt=(-19.0+or-0.1)times10 -4 au/Myr or 284+or-1.5 m/year. The accuracy of this result depends critically on the fidelity of the observational and dynamical model. As an example, neglecting the relativistic perturbations of the Earth during close approaches affects the orbit with 3sigma significance in da/dt.The orbital deviations from purely gravitational dynamics allow us to deduce the acceleration of the Yarkovsky effect, while the known physical characterization of Bennu allows us to independently model the force due to thermal emissions. The combination of these two analyses yields a bulk density of rho=1260+or-70 kg/m 3, which indicates a macroporosity in the range 40+or-10% for the bulk densities of likely analog meteorites, suggesting a rubble-pile internal structure. The associated mass estimate is (7.8+or-0.9)times10 10 kg and GM=5.2+or-0.6 m 3/s 2.Bennu's Earth close approaches are deterministic over the interval 1654-2135, beyond which the predictions are statistical in nature. In particular, the 2135 close approach is likely within the lunar distance and leads to strong scattering and numerous potential impacts in subsequent years, from 2175 to 2196. The highest individual impact probability is 9.5times10 -5 in 2196, and the cumulative impact probability is 3.7times10 -4, leading to a cumulative Palermo Scale of -1.70. [All rights reserved Elsevier].
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  • Statistical analysis of astrometric errors for the most productive asteroid surveys

    Veres, Peter   Farnocchia, Davide   Chesley, Steven R.   Chamberlin, Alan B.  

    We performed a statistical analysis of the astrometric errors for the major asteroid surveys. We analyzed the astrometric residuals as a function of observation epoch, observed brightness and rate of motion, finding that astrometric errors are larger for faint observations and some stations improved their astrometric quality over time. Based on this statistical analysis we develop a new weighting scheme to be used when performing asteroid orbit determination. The proposed weights result in ephemeris predictions that can be conservative by a factor as large as 1.5. However, the new scheme is robust with respect to outliers and handles the larger errors for faint detections. (C) 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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    Farnocchia, Davide   Chesley, Steven R.   Chodas, Paul W.   Tricarico, Pasquale   Kelley, Michael S. P.   Farnham, Tony L.  

    Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) will experience a high velocity encounter with Mars on 2014 October 19 at a distance of 135,000 km +/- 5000 km from the planet center. We present a comprehensive analysis of the trajectory of both the comet nucleus and the dust tail. The nucleus of C/2013 A1 cannot impact on Mars even in the case of unexpectedly large nongravitational perturbations. Furthermore, we compute the required ejection velocities for the dust grains of the tail to reach Mars as a function of particle radius and density and heliocentric distance of the ejection. A comparison between our results and the most current modeling of the ejection velocities suggests that impacts are possible only for millimeter to centimeter size particles released more than 13AU from the Sun. However, this level of cometary activity that far from the Sun is considered extremely unlikely. The arrival time of these particles spans a 20-minute time interval centered at 2014 October 19 at 20: 09 TDB, i.e., around the time that Mars crosses the orbital plane of C/2013 A1. Ejection velocities larger than currently estimated by a factor >2 would allow impacts for smaller particles ejected as close as 3AU from the Sun. These particles would reach Mars from 19:13 TDB to 20:40 TDB.
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    Baer, James   Chesley, Steven R.   Matson, Robert D.  

    As an application of our recent observational error model, we present the astrometric masses of 26 main-belt asteroids. We also present an integrated ephemeris of 300 large asteroids, which was used in the mass determination algorithm to model significant perturbations from the rest of the main belt. After combining our mass estimates with those of other authors, we study the bulk porosities of over 50 main-belt asteroids and observe that asteroids as large as 300 km in diameter may be loose aggregates. This finding may place specific constraints on models of main-belt collisional evolution. Additionally, we observe that C-group asteroids tend to have significantly higher macroporosity than S-group asteroids.
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  • Treatment of star catalog biases in asteroid astrometric observations

    Chesley, Steven R.   Baer, James   Monet, David G.  

    In this paper, we discuss the detection of systematic biases in star positions of the USNO A1.0, A2.0, and B1.0 catalogs, as deduced from the residuals of numbered asteroid observations. We present a technique for the removal of these biases, and validate this technique by illustrating the resulting improvements in numbered asteroid residuals, and by establishing that debiased orbits predict omitted observations more accurately than do orbits derived from non-debiased observations. We also illustrate the benefits of debiasing to high-precision astrometric applications such as asteroid mass determination and collision analysis, including a refined prediction of the impact probability of 99942 Apophis. Specifically, we find the IP of Apophis to be lowered by nearly an order of magnitude to 4.5 x 10(-6) for the 2036 close approach. (C) 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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  • The recovery of asteroid 2008 TC(3)

    Shaddad, Muawia H.   Jenniskens, Peter   Numan, Diyaa   Kudoda, Ayman M.   Elsir, Saadia   Riyad, Ihab F.   Ali, Awad Elkareem   Alameen, Mohammed   Alameen, Nada M.   Eid, Omer   Osman, Ahmed T.   AbuBaker, Mohamed I.   Yousif, Mohamed   Chesley, Steven R.   Chodas, Paul W.   Albers, Jim   Edwards, Wayne N.   Brown, Peter G.   Kuiper, Jacob   Friedrich, Jon M.  

    On October 7, 2008, asteroid 2008 TC(3) impacted Earth and fragmented at 37 km altitude above the Nubian Desert in northern Sudan. The area surrounding the asteroid's approach path was searched, resulting in the first recovery of meteorites from an asteroid observed in space. This was also the first recovery of remains from a fragile "cometary" PE = IIIa/b type fireball. In subsequent searches, over 600 mostly small 0.2-379 g meteorites (named "Almahata Sitta") with a total mass 10.7 kg were recovered from a 30 x 7 km area. Meteorites fell along the track at 1.3 kg km-1, nearly independent of mass between 1 and 400 g, with a total fallen mass of 39 +/- 6 kg. The strewn field was shifted nearly 1.8 km south from the calculated approach path. The influence of winds on the distribution of the meteorites, and on the motion of the dust train, is investigated. The majority of meteorites are ureilites with densities around 2.8 g cm-3, some of an anomalous (porous, high in carbon) polymict ureilite variety with densities as low as 1.5 g cm-3. In addition, an estimated 20-30% (in mass) of recovered meteorites were ordinary, enstatite, and carbonaceous chondrites. Their fresh look and matching distribution of fragments in the strewn field imply that they were part of 2008 TC(3). For that reason, they are all referred to as "Almahata Sitta." No ureilite meteorites were found that still held foreign clasts, suggesting that the asteroid's clasts were only loosely bound.
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  • Long term impact risk for (101955) 1999 RQ(36)

    Milani, Andrea   Chesley, Steven R.   Sansaturio, Maria Eugenia   Bernardi, Fabrizio   Valsecchi, Giovanni B.   Arratia, Oscar  

    The potentially hazardous Asteroid (101955) 1999 RQ(36) has a possibility of colliding with the Earth in the latter half of the 22nd century, well beyond the traditional 100-year time horizon for routine impact monitoring. The probabilities accumulate to a total impact probability of approximately 10(-3), with a pair of closely related routes to impact in 2182 comprising more than half of the total. The analysis of impact possibilities so far in the future is strongly dependent on the action of the Yarkovsky effect, which raises new challenges in the careful assessment of longer term impact hazards. Even for asteroids with very precisely determined orbits, a future close approach to Earth can scatter the possible trajectories to the point that the problem becomes like that of a newly discovered asteroid with a weakly determined orbit. If the scattering takes place late enough so that the target plane uncertainty is dominated by Yarkovsky accelerations then the thermal properties of the asteroid, which are typically unknown, play a major role ill the impact assessment. In contrast, if the strong planetary interaction takes place sooner, while the Yarkovsky dispersion is still relatively small compared to that derived from the measurements, then precise modeling of the nongravitational acceleration may be unnecessary. (C) 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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  • An Anomalous Basaltic Meteorite from the Innermost Main Belt

    Spurny, Pavel   Towner, Martin C.   Bevan, Alex W. R.   Singleton, Andrew T.   Bottke, William F., Jr.   Greenwood, Richard C.   Chesley, Steven R.   Shrbeny, Lukas   Borovicka, Jiri   Ceplecha, Zdenek   McClafferty, Terence P.   Vaughan, David   Benedix, Gretchen K.   Deacon, Geoff   Howard, Kieren T.   Franchi, Ian A.   Hough, Robert M.  

    Triangulated observations of fireballs allow us to determine orbits and fall positions for meteorites. The great majority of basaltic meteorites are derived from the asteroid 4 Vesta. We report on a recent fall that has orbital properties and an oxygen isotope composition that suggest a distinct parent body. Although its orbit was almost entirely contained within Earth's orbit, modeling indicates that it originated from the innermost main belt. Because the meteorite parent body would likely be classified as a V-type asteroid, V-type precursors for basaltic meteorites unrelated to Vesta may reside in the inner main belt. This starting location is in agreement with predictions of a planetesimal evolution model that postulates the formation of differentiated asteroids in the terrestrial planet region, with surviving fragments concentrated in the innermost main belt.
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  • Astrometric masses of 21 asteroids, and an integrated asteroid ephemeris

    Baer, James   Chesley, Steven R.  

    We apply the technique of astrometric mass determination to measure the masses of 21 main-belt asteroids; the masses of 9 Metis (1.03 +/- 0.24 x 10(-11) M-circle dot), 17 Thetis (6.17 +/- 0.64 x 10(-13) M-circle dot), 19 Fortuna (5.41 +/- 0.76 x 10(-12) M-circle dot), and 189 Phthia (1.87 +/- 0.64 x 10(-14) M-circle dot) appear to be new. The resulting bulk porosities of 11 Parthenope (12 +/- 4%) and 16 Psyche (46 +/- 16%) are smaller than previously-reported values. Empirical expressions modeling bulk density as a function of mean radius are presented for the C and S taxonomic classes. To accurately model the forces on these asteroids during the mass determination process, we created an integrated ephemeris of the 300 large asteroids used in preparing the DE-405 planetary ephemeris; this new BC-405 integrated asteroid ephemeris also appears useful in other high-accuracy applications.
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  • Star catalog position and proper motion corrections in asteroid astrometry II: The Gaia era

    Eggl, Siegfried   Farnocchia, Davide   Chamberlin, Alan B.   Chesley, Steven R.  

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  • Nongravitational Accelerations on Comets

    Chesley, Steven R.   Yeomans, Donald K.  

    The orbital motion of comets is difficult to characterize accurately due to the rocket-like outgassing of material from the cometary nucleus. The resulting nongravitational accelerations often appear to be fundamentally stochastic in nature and thus pose severe modeling challenges in orbit determination, especially when the comet has been observed for many revolutions. Even so, new techniques have arisen in recent years that give new insight, not only into the motion of the comets, but also into their physical characteristics and spin states. These approaches include modeling of spin axis precession over many decades and the consideration of the seasonal variation in the thrust from discrete jets acting on a rotating nucleus. Such advances have been enabled, in part, by the increasing efforts and capabilities of comet observers worldwide as more and more comets with longer and longer observing arcs become available for study. In this review we specifically consider the application of the Rotating Jet Model to several space mission targets, indicating how this model can often be used to infer the orientation of a comet's spin axis.
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