Archive for February, 2011

We are in the Top Ten! General Results for 2010

The Minor Planet Center’s official statistics on the number of observations of solar system objects for 2010 have been released. Our observatory took 10th place in that list (out of 434 observatories). It is worth noting that our observing program started in the second half of the year – June 13, 2010.

# Code # Obs # Num MPs # Unnum MPs # Comets
1 C51 3 941 618 (36%) 2 797 674 (71%) 1 141 174 (29%) 140
2 704 2 101 387 (19%) 1 990 269 (95%) 109 949 (5%) 111
3 G96 1 549 821 (14%) 1 089 420 (70%) 459 980 (30%) 4
4 703 1 257 185 (11%) 1 136 084 (90%) 120 470 (10%) 16
5 691 698 882 (6%) 503 811 (72%) 194 854 (28%) 15
6 F51 591 009 (5%) 516 315 (87%) 74 688 (13%) 0
7 J75 354 336 (3%) 327 839 (93%) 26 433 (7%) 3
8 E12 152 056 (1%) 143 710 (95%) 8 231 (5%) 12
9 D29 122 220 (1%) 115 686 (95%) 6 496 (5%) 16
10 H15 70 891 (<1%) 61 666 (87%) 9 018 (13%) 8
11 291 67 882 (<1%) 39 794 (59%) 27 814 (41%) 3
12 106 39 879 (<1%) 38 170 (96%) 1 618 (4%) 12
13 G92 37 840 (<1%) 34 400 (91%) 3 384 (9%) 0
14 926 35 029 (<1%) 29 041 (83%) 5 878 (17%) 0
15 A77 17 477 (<1%) 13 226 (76%) 3 296 (24%) 0
16 J04 17 251 (<1%) 13 260 (77%) 3 982 (23%) 0
17 A50 16 244 (<1%) 14 160 (87%) 2 069 (13%) 0
18 H21 15 779 (<1%) 1 238 (8 %) 14 387 (92%) 0
19 461 10 833 (<1%) 5 460 (50%) 5 301 (50%) 0
20 683 9 126 (<1%) 9 022 (99%) 91 (1%) 0
Overall: 11 106 725

So, as we see from the tables, the “deep” surveys with high penetration are clearly visible. Those are the surveys G96, 291, and 691 which use large telescopes. The LINEAR survey, also working with a meter-sized telescope, chose a different tactic – going for maximum sky coverage. They have a total of 5% unnumbered asteroids, giving them second place in number of observations, 19% of the overall number*.

Somewhat poorly understood are the Pan-STARRS (F51) results. The issue is not the disappointingly low number of observations which can be attributed to ongoing debugging, but that the majority of measurements of this survey are of numbered asteroids; like our survey the percent relation is 87%/13%. However, we use a 0.46 meter telescope as compared to a 1.8 meter telescope on F51 (that is the largest telescope in the list, along with the 1.8 meter Spacewatch II telescope) (291).

As can be seen from the tables our 87%/13% relationship is intermediate between “fast” surveys like the LINEAR survey (704) and “deep” surveys like Spacewatch II (291).

If we take into account only small surveys – J75, H15, 106, G92, 926, A77, and A50, then our survey, along with A77 and A50 is one of the deepest although we use a telescope with less aperture. In this list we are in second place behind only the La Sagra survey using three Centurion-18 telescopes (like the telescope at our observatory).

In 18th place is the telescope of the Astronomical Research Institute (ARI) – its result is diametrically opposite – 92% faint unnumbered objects. The explanation is simple – the observatory H21 (formerly H55) operates under a NASA grant and occupies itself only with following spacecraft. In addition, the observatory accommodates its cadre of schoolchildren in the ASC Project where they look for new objects (basically main-belt asteroids).

As for the total number of observations, here the leader is obvious, it is the space telescope WISE (C51) – more than a third of all the measurements of minor solar system bodies. That dramatically shows that in relation to search surveys, the future is in space observatories.

* – for 100%, the total number of observations of the twenty “large” observatories in the table is used.

MPC statistic for January – February 2011

The new monthly MPC circular released – MPC 73613 – 73986.

ISON-NM statistic for the previous month (January 13 – February 15):

Number of measurements: 13707

Measured objects: 3421

Discovered objects: 92

Sky coverage: 840 sq. degrees

Observing nights*: 23

* – include partial nights

The nucleus of comet Temple turns out to be very fragile

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell

In the NASA presentation of the results of the Stardust spacecraft flyby of the nucleus of Comet Tempel, images were presented in which the results of the bombardment of the comet in July 2005 can be seen. My expressed conjecture about the pattern of the debris was not supported. In the high resolution images, which were not released to the internet before the press conference, the scientists were able to detect a small crater on the order of 150 km in diameter. During the time since the collision with the impactor, the edges of the crater appear indistinct and more smoothed out. Along with other changes in the outward appearance of the comet’s nucleus, we can say that it consists of very fragile material which, by the way, supports the current model of the structure of a comet nucleus.

Possible traces of the collision on the surface of comet Tempel

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell

The most detailed to date image of Comet Tempel, was taken in the flyby. Possible traces of the collision of the impactor can be seen as a bright stripe on the surface of the comet. The image is rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise compared to the 2005.

First images of the flight of Stardust by the nucleus of comet Tempel

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell

NASA specialists have begun receiving the 72 images planned for the flyby of the nucleus of Comet Tempel 1. On the left you can see the first of the received images. The image was taken from a distance of 2462 km from the comet’s nucleus. In several hours there will be a NASA press conference at which they will present the remaining images. Stay with us!

February 2011
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