EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 418, Number 2, May I 2004
Page(s) 743 - 750
Section Planets and planetary systems
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20034428

A&A 418, 743-750 (2004)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20034428

Near Earth Asteroid search and follow-up beyond 22nd magnitude

A pilot program with ESO telescopes
A. Boattini1, G. D'Abramo1, H. Scholl2, O. R. Hainaut3, H. Boehnhardt4, R. West5, M. Carpino6, G. Hahn7, R. Michelsen8, G. Forti9, P. Pravec10, G. B. Valsecchi1 and D. J. Asher11, 12

1  INAF-IASF, via Fosso del Cavaliere 100, 00133 Roma, Italy
2  Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur, BP 4229, 06304 Nice Cedex 4, France
3  European Southern Observatory, Casilla 19001, Santiago 19, Chile
4  Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy, Koenigstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
5  European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2, 85748 Garching, Germany
6  INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Brera, via Brera 28, 20121 Milano, Italy
7  DLR German Aerospace Center Rutherfordstr. 2, 12489 Berlin, Germany
8  Niels Bohr Institute for Astronomy, Physics and Geophysics, Astronomical Observatory, Juliane Maries Vej 30, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
9  INAF - Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Largo E. Fermi 5, 50122 Firenze, Italy
10  Astronomical Institute AS CR Fricova 1, Ondrejov 25165, Czech Republic
11  Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG, UK
12  Japan Spaceguard Association, 2-3-14-609 Kyonan-cho, Musashino, Tokyo 180-0023, Japan

(Received 30 September 2003 / Accepted 16 January 2004 )

We have performed a Near Earth Asteroid search and follow-up test beyond 22nd magnitude with the 2.2-m MPG/ESO and the New Technology Telescope (NTT) facilities at La Silla. The experiment comprised a total number of 4 nights at the 2.2-m telescope and 3 nights at the NTT on two separate runs. In addition to the discovery of two NEAs and the recovery of many more, this pilot program has shown the advantages as well as the problems of a dedicated program using much larger facilities than the ones currently used worldwide. We confirm the results of Jedicke et al. (2003), that by observing at fainter magnitudes and finding objects at larger distances, such a system will discover km-sized NEAs with higher orbital e and i as well as a larger proportion of the smaller NEAs; moreover, it will shorten the time needed to reach 90% completeness for km-sized objects. The pilot program also evidenced the need for follow-up facilities compatible with the discovery telescopes.

Key words: solar system: general -- minor planets, asteroids -- astrometry -- celestial mechanics -- surveys

Offprint request: A. Boattini, boattini@rm.iasf.cnr.it

© ESO 2004