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NEOWISE Observations of Near-Earth Objects: Preliminary Results

Mainzer, A. and Bauer, J. and Cutri, R. M. and Mauduit, J.-C. (2011) NEOWISE Observations of Near-Earth Objects: Preliminary Results. Astrophysical Journal, 743 (2). p. 156. ISSN 0004-637X.

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With the NEOWISE portion of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) project, we have carried out a highly uniform survey of the near-Earth object (NEO) population at thermal infrared wavelengths ranging from 3 to 22 μm, allowing us to refine estimates of their numbers, sizes, and albedos. The NEOWISE survey detected NEOs the same way whether they were previously known or not, subject to the availability of ground-based follow-up observations, resulting in the discovery of more than 130 new NEOs. The survey's uniform sensitivity, observing cadence, and image quality have permitted extrapolation of the 428 near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) detected by NEOWISE during the fully cryogenic portion of the WISE mission to the larger population. We find that there are 981 ± 19 NEAs larger than 1 km and 20,500 ± 3000 NEAs larger than 100 m. We show that the Spaceguard goal of detecting 90% of all 1 km NEAs has been met, and that the cumulative size distribution is best represented by a broken power law with a slope of 1.32 ± 0.14 below 1.5 km. This power-law slope produces ~13,200 ± 1900 NEAs with D > 140 m. Although previous studies predict another break in the cumulative size distribution below D ~ 50-100 m, resulting in an increase in the number of NEOs in this size range and smaller, we did not detect enough objects to comment on this increase. The overall number for the NEA population between 100 and 1000 m is lower than previous estimates. The numbers of near-Earth comets and potentially hazardous NEOs will be the subject of future work.

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Cutri, R. M.0000-0002-0077-2305
Additional Information:© 2011 American Astronomical Society. Received 2011 July 24; accepted 2011 September 6; published 2011 December 2. This publication makes use of data products from the Widefield Infrared Survey Explorer, which is a joint project of the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology, funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. This publication also makes use of data products from NEOWISE, which is a project of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology, funded by the Planetary Science Division of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. We thank our referee, Dr. Alan Harris of DLR, for his thoughtful comments which materially improved this work. We also thank Dr. Alan Harris of the Space Sciences Institute for useful conversations. We gratefully acknowledge the extraordinary services specific to NEOWISE contributed by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center, operated by the Harvard- Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams, operated by Harvard University. We also thank the worldwide community of dedicated amateur and professional astronomers devoted to minor planet follow-up observations. This research has made use of the NASA/IPAC Infrared Science Archive, which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Group:Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:infrared: planetary systems; minor planets, asteroids: general; planets and satellites: general; surveys
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20120201-113040776
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Official Citation:NEOWISE Observations of Near-Earth Objects: Preliminary Results A. Mainzer et al. 2011 ApJ 743 156
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:29066
Deposited By: Jason Perez
Deposited On:01 Feb 2012 20:58
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 03:38

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