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Physical Characterization of Asteroids
Mentors: Michael D. Hicks (JPL)

There are just a handful of asteroids that have been imaged from fly by spacecrafts. Information about the physical properties of vast number of others is still based on photometry and reflective spectroscopy. Asteroid light curve in particular reveals information about its period of rotation, size, tri-axial shape, and phenomenological albedo classification which points to its surface composition. When sufficient data is available a more advanced light curve inversion provides 3D modeling of asteroid shape and orientation of spin axis. This information is particularly important for potentially hazardous Near-Earth asteroids whose size and composition determine their level of danger for our planet.

CURE student tasks: Physical properties of asteroids, astronomical observations, CCD photometry, reflective spectroscopy, and data analysis.

CURE students:

Tzitlaly Barajas, Spring 09
James Foster, Spring 09
Karen Garcia, Spring 10
Amanda McAuley, Spring 09
Jennifer Shitanishi, Fall 09
Joanne Sasutil, Spring 09Tino Truong, Spring 10
Cierra Strojia, Summer 11, Summer 12
Michael McCormack, Summer 11
Samantha Teague, Summer 11, Summer 12
Tamara Davtyan, Summer 12
David Dombroski, Summer 12, Fall 12
Mark Brewer, Fall 12



Asteroids
Example of asteroid shape modeling

Dr. Michael Hicks web page at JPL


Table Mountain Observatory
http://tmoa.jpl.nasa.gov

http://tmf-web.jpl.nasa.gov/

TMO 0.6m telescope TCP Guide

Observing aids
Minor Planet & Comet Ephemeris Service

JPL Horizons
The STScI Digitized Sky Survey
Landolt Equatorial Standards (Hawaii)

Landolt Equatorial Standards (WIYN)

Landolt Equatorial Standards (USNO)

NICMOS IR Standards (USNO)

AAVSO CCD Observing Manual


Catalogs and Resources
Minor Planet Center

Minor Planets Light Curve Data (CfA)
Courbes de rotation d'astéroïdes et de comètes
Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams
Guide Stars Catalog
Publications:
M. Hicks, K. Lawrence, H. Rhoades, J. Somers, A. McAuley, T. Barajas, 2001 FE90: An elongated and rapidly rotating near-Earth asteroid, (ATel #2116)

M. Hicks, T. Barajas, A. McAuley, Broad-band Photometry of the Potentially Hazardous Asteroid 2009 KC3, (ATel #2247)

M. Hicks, J. Somers, T. Barajas, J. Foster, A. McAuley, J. Shitanishi, Broad-band Photometry of the Binary Potentially Hazardous Asteroid 2003 YT1. (ATel #2289)

M.Hicks, T. Barajas, J. Somers, J. Shitanishi, D. Mayes, 217807 (2000 XK44): Broad-band photometry of a slowly rotating near-Earth asteroid.(ATel #2371)

M. Hicks, T. Barajas, J. Shitanishi, Broad-band Colors and Rotation Lightcurves of the Potentially Hazardous Asteroid 2009 UN3. (ATel #2449)

M. Hicks, K. Lawrence, J. Somers, A. McAuley, Optical Characterization of Potentially Hazardous Asteroid and Planetary Radar Target 4486 Mithra: Evidence for Rotational Variability. (ATel #2488)

M. Hicks, K. Lawrence, J. Somers, J. Foster, Physical Characterization of the Potentially Hazardous Asteroid and Planetary Radar Target 68216 (2001 CV26): An Excellent Shape/Pole Modeling Candidate. (ATel #2502)

M. Hicks, J. Somers, J. Foster, A. McAuley, Broad-band Photometry of the Potentially Hazardous Asteroid 2010 GU21. (ATel #2592)