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NEOKepler: Discovering Near-Earth Objects Using the Kepler Spacecraft

Status Report From: arXiv.org e-Print archive
Posted: Wednesday, September 4, 2013

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We propose a new Kepler mission, called NEOKepler, that would survey near Earth's orbit to identify potentially hazardous objects (PHOs). To understand its surveying power, Kepler's large field of view produces an 'etendue' (A*Omega) that is 4.5 times larger than the best survey telescope currently in operation. In this paper, we investigate the feasibility of NEOKepler using a double "fence post" survey pattern that efficiently detects PHOs. In a simulated 12-month survey, we estimate that NEOKepler would detect ~150 new NEOs with absolute magnitudes of less than 21.5, ~50 of which would be new PHOs. This would increase the annual PHO discovery rate by at least 50% and improve upon our goal of discovering 90% of PHOs by the end of 2020. 

Due to its heliocentric orbit, Kepler would also be sensitive to objects inside Earth's orbit, discovering more objects in its first year than are currently known to exist. Understanding this undersampled sub-population of NEOs will reveal new insights into the actual PHO distribution by further constraining current NEO models. As an alternative science goal, NEOKepler could employ a different observing strategy to discover suitable targets for NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission.

Kevin B. Stevenson, Daniel Fabrycky, Robert Jedicke, William Bottke, Larry Denneau (Submitted on 4 Sep 2013)

Comments: This submission is in response to Kepler's call for white papers; 10 pages

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Cite as: arXiv:1309.1096 [astro-ph.EP]   (or arXiv:1309.1096v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history From: Kevin Stevenson [v1] Wed, 4 Sep 2013 16:42:31 GMT (385kb)

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