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Results from a study of radar-targeted NEOs with the LCO NEO Follow-up Network

Presentation #401.05 in the session “NEO Observations: Who's a Pretty Little Space Rock?!”.

Published onOct 03, 2021
Results from a study of radar-targeted NEOs with the LCO NEO Follow-up Network

Near Earth Objects (NEOs) are our closest neighbors that mostly originate in the main asteroid belt and have found their way into near-Earth space via complex dynamical interactions. Research into these small bodies is important for understanding not only the Solar System’s origin and evolution, but also how best to protect human society from potential impacts. Both of these goals require a more complete understanding of how NEO physical parameters, such as taxonomy and composition, correlate to an object’s diameter, orbit type, or origin. Toward this end, planetary radars provide a powerful tool for determining many orbital and physical characteristics at the same time, however their capabilities are limited without complementary optical observations such as those provided by the NEO Follow-up Network at Las Cumbres Observatory (LCO). The LCO NEO Follow-up Network is using the 24 telescopes of the LCO global telescope network and NEOexchange [1], a web-based target selection, scheduling, and data reduction system to confirm NEO candidates and characterize targets of special interest such as radar-targeted NEOs, close passing NEOs, and potential mission destinations. The LCO NEO Follow-up Network’s main aims are to obtain characterization data such as colors, light curves, rotation periods and taxonomic information on NEOs. In particular, we specialize in targeting objects that are visible from the Southern Hemisphere, where the LCO NEO Follow-up Network is the largest available resource for NEO observations and the spacing of telescopes allows both rapid response and continuous coverage. We present results of the characterization campaigns on radar-targeted NEOs carried out with the LCO NEO Follow-up Network including determination of photometric rotation periods and taxonomic classifications for a number of NEOs spanning a range of absolute magnitudes and diameters.

References: [1] Lister, T et. al. (2021) Icarus, 364, 114387 (doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2021.114387)

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