- THE OBSERVATORY
- OBSERVATIONAL ACTIVITY
- MAIN SCIENTIFIC PROJECTS
- SOME SPECIAL EVENTS
- DATA ARCHIVE
- INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
The CINEOS Project
Campo Imperatore Near-Earth Objects Survey
|Schmidt||Aug 2001||Dec 2002|
CINEOS was born in 1996 from a collaboration between the
Observatory of Rome
and the Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale (IASF-CNR)
within the ITANET project.
After a long hiatus from mid-1997, CINEOS has recently restarted operations taking advantage of improved hardware and software capabilities. The Observatory of Torino has been also involved in this project since the restart of the project. Operated at the Schmidt telescope (60-90-183 cm) available at the station, the program uses between 10 and 14 nights per month, usually around the first and last quarter of the moon.
ROSI is equipped with a 2048 x 2048, 13,5 micron per pixel, high efficiency, thinned back illuminated CCD chip produced by Marconi Ltd. (formerly known as EEV). The sampling is 1.51 arcsec/pixel and it corresponds to a field of view (FoV) of 52' x 52'. The camera is also equipped with a standard Johnson filter set (U, B, V, R and I) mounted on an automatic jukebox system. The high quantum efficiency (nearly 90 % at the peak) and the extremely low dark current guaranteed by the liquid nitrogen cooling system (working temperature is -100 C deg), coupled with the fast (f/3) Schmidt optics makes this system extremely valuable on moving objects where high photometric speed is required.
The telescope mechanics have also been recently upgraded with new encoders, motors and control system. Thanks to the quality of these devices the telescope is now able to perform open loop tracking (without any guider) for periods of many minutes and no visible star stretching.
Another reduction pipeline is also under improvement/preparation: it performs
automatic detection of moving objects, automatic astrometric reduction and
semi-automatic recognition of unusual objects to be flagged for the
Minor Planet Center as
possible candidate for the NEO Confirmation Page. At this preliminary stage of
the activity, part of the work is currently carried out with the Astrometrica
software package and the USNO A2.0 astrometric catalog.
Further information about self-made software will be posted on this page very soon.
As for orbit and ephemeris calculation we use several databases: self-made software (mostly by Giuseppe Forti of the Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory), the NEODyS database and the Orbfit software for the preparation of the observing program. We also make full use of several features of the Minor Planet Center and the Lowell database. The choice of targets for NEO follow-up purposes mostly depends on the suggestions provided by the Spaceguard Central Node.
- 3 PC (OS/2)
- 1 PC Windows 2000
- 1 PC LINUX
- 1 AIX workstation
- Inner-Earth Objects (IEOs)
Atens are also very important because numerical simulations have shown that they have the highest frequency of close encounters with the Earth. Sometimes Atens can evolve into orbits completely inside that of the Earth and vice versa. Thus, there are bodies that can come very close to the Earth, but are very difficult to observe from the ground.
2) The second goal of CINEOS is to provide rapid astrometric data for:
- Follow-up of NEOs in urgent need of observations.
- Recovery of NEOs at future apparitions.
- Follow-up of small bodies belonging to other unusual orbital classes.
For obvious reasons, the survey activity will be carried out mostly at the
beginning and near the end of the night, while part of the middle of night time
is usually available for the follow-up work. As a targeted follow-up system,
CINEOS takes advantage of the combination of the relatively faint limiting
magnitude and large FoV (probably the largest in the world for this activity).
Follow-up can be provided up to magnitude 21, occasionally to 22
on the best nights.
Coordination of the follow-up work will be accomplished within the Spaceguard Central Node facilities. An essential side of the work is to chose targets that cannot be done elsewhere very easily during the epoch of the observing run.
In the first study we integrated a population of 1382 Atens and 524 IEOs with absolute magnitude H < 22, kindly provided by A. Morbidelli, in order to evaluate the density distribution of these objects at different elongations. A second study includes another sample of 360 IEOs obtained integrating the orbits of 565 real Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs) for 5 Mys. These populations are fictitious but realistic, because they considered among the best dynamical models and integration techniqes available at present. In our calculations we took into account the trailing loss effect and the technical characteristic of the CINEOS Schmidt telescope.
Our results suggest that the best performing strategy, as described better in the next section, is to take exposures of 60 - 120 seconds in order to reach an effective limiting magnitude of 20.0 - 20.5 V for moving objects under good conditions. This is also a good compromise between limiting magnitude and trailing losses. Sky coverage is performed starting from solar elongations of 40 degrees.
Although the object detection is done semi-automatically, when time allows, we try to repeat the blinking process visually by eye in order to minimize the risk of missing detections. We give precedence to the fields at small solar elongations. It should not surprise that the two most interesting discoveries so far, 2002 LC58 and 2002 MQ were detected by the observer and not by the software, which is going to get improved in the near future.
For the time in which we are about to submit the astrometric data to the Minor Planet Center, we use self-made software in order to help the MPC in discriminating interesting objects from typical main belt motion rates so that interesting targets could be posted on the NEOCP.
2002 LC58 was particularly interesting because it was discovered at 60 degrees of solar elongation, in the morning sky. Despite its unusual motion, it was impossible to discriminate the real nature of its orbit until the observing arc became of 25 days. 2002 MQ, on the other hand, was discovered while following 2002 MN, a very interesting NEA.
The 3rd September 2002 CINEOS discovered its first NEO (2002RQ25): an Apollo object with an estimated size of about 200-300 meters. On November 27th 2002 another NEO (2002WP11) of the Amor family has been discovered by CINEOS.
October-November 2002 results, for a total of 3576 published positions:
Activity results since August 1st 2001, 11640 published positions:
Published positions plot since August 2001:
Discoveries plot since August 2001:
- Fabrizio Bernardi, INAF, Rome Astronomical Observatory
- Andrea Boattini, IASF-CNR, Spaceguard Central Node
- Mario Carpino, INAF, Brera Astronomical Observatory, Milan
- Andrea Carusi, IASF-CNR, Spaceguard Foundation
- Germano D'Abramo, IASF-CNR, Spaceguard Central Node
- Andrea Di Paola, INAF, Rome Astronomical Observatory
- Elisabetta Dotto, INAF, Torino Astronomical Observatory
- Giuseppe Forti, INAF, Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory
- Gianluca Masi, IASF-CNR, research assistant
- Ernesto Palomba, INAF
- Giovanni Battista Valsecchi, IASF-CNR, Spaceguard Foundation