Asteroids in the Archives – Compilation and Calibration of Serendipitous Archival Asteroid Photometry

NASA Planetary Data Archiving, Restoration, and Tools Program

Other Non PSI Personnel: Marco Micheli (ESA), Robert Jedicke (U. Hawaii), Larry Denneau (U. Hawaii), Peter Veres (JPL)

Start Date: 05/16/2017
Project #: 1530
End Date: 05/15/2024
Award #: NNX17AL01G
Project Description

Given the recent optical photometric calibration of field stars over the entire night sky from 30 degrees to +90 degrees in declination by the Pan STARRS1 (PS1) survey, we propose to create a catalog of calibrated astrometry, photometry, and PSF measurements of serendipitously observed small solar system objects in public archival image data from various facilities (including PS1 itself, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, or SDSS, and other large telescopes). We will extract and calibrate detections of known minor planets, measuring an estimated ~4� 10^7 serendipitous observations of these objects, all obtained by large (2.5m 8m) telescopes, which we will make publicly available via NASA’s Planetary Data System (PDS) and the Minor Planet Center (MPC).

We will utilize trail fitting code originally developed for PS1 in order to obtain accurate astrometry and photometry for trailed objects in long exposure images. PSF measurements will also be made to enable searches for previously unknown comet like activity among our objects. These results will be made publicly available via PDS and also via an online search tool hosted by the Planetary Science Institute that will allow users to search for a particular object, list of objects, or objects or observations meeting certain criteria, and obtain a historical serendipitous observational record of that/those object(s) including astrometry, photometry, PSF measurements, associated metadata, JPEG preview imagery, and processed FITS files for each detection.

Our objective is to create an easily reconfigurable data reduction pipeline for this work. As such, though we will spend significant time developing pipeline code for the first data archives to be processed, this overhead should decline significantly for subsequent data archives, allowing us to eventually add additional archives with minimal additional effort. We also plan to periodically update our database as orbits of more asteroids become sufficiently well determined for their positions... well determined for their positions to be accurately predicted, and as new data from our existing suite of processed data archives reach the end of their proprietary periods and become publicly available.

Besides improving the quality and usability of the 1.6� 10^7 asteroid measurements in the PS1 database and expanding upon the current SDSS Moving Object Catalog (SDSSMOC; last updated in 2007), this project will exploit the vast quantity of publicly available archival optical imaging data from large telescopes that were originally obtained for non solar system science and have therefore never been searched for solar system objects. We expect to extract data for ~2.5� 10^7 new asteroid detections from non PS1 sources. Many of these will be from telescopes with apertures ~8 m in size (i.e., the size of the planned Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, or LSST, or larger), with implications for a wide range of small solar system body science. As such, this project (and potential future updates) has the potential to have a significant impact on the field years ahead of the start of the LSST survey.

This program will generate higher order data products from currently existing astronomical observations, most of which were not initially intended for use for solar system science research, and as such, is well suited for the PDART program. It will increase the amount of data products available for planetary science research and produce tools that will enable and enhance future scientific investigations, as described in the PDART program solicitation. All data products from this program will be made publicly available via the Small Body Node of PDS, while all pipeline code, search tool source code, and documentation will be made publicly available via GitHub.

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