AAS 201st Meeting, January, 2003
Session 130. The Sun and Solar System Studies
Oral, Thursday, January 9, 2003, 10:00-11:30am, 618-619

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[130.03] LINEAR Search and Operations Experience

G.H. Stokes, J.B. Evans, F.C. Shelly (MIT Lincoln Laboratory)

The Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program has provided 70% of the worldwide discoveries of Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs) since it began full operations in March 1998. Over that time, LINEAR has discovered more than half of the currently known population of NEAs. LINEAR now operates using two 1-meter aperture GEODSS type search telescopes, located near Socorro, New Mexico, and has recently added a third 31-inch aperture telescope dedicated to automated follow-up of single night objects detected by the search telescopes. The automated follow-up system, known as L3, removes the follow-up burden from the search telescopes, allowing them to cover more sky in search mode. In addition, since the capacity of L3 is around 200 objects/night, many more interesting objects discovered by LINEAR can be followed up, beyond the few per night that are posted to the MPC confirmation page. Initial observing by L3 in September 2002 resulted in the identification of 2 new NEAs (2002 RV25 and 2002 RP28) by providing additional nights of data prior to the objects being posted on the confirmation page.

This paper describes LINEAR's recent search productivity as well as our operations concept for L3, and L3's contribution to LINEAR's follow-up activity and NEO discovery. In addition, LINEAR's comet search experience will be discussed.

This work is sponsored by the Dept. of the Air Force and NASA under Air Force Contract No. F19628-00-C-0002. Opinions, interpretations, conclusions and recommendations are those of the authors and are not necessarily endorsed by the United States Air Force.

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