AAS 204th Meeting, June 2004
Session 64 The Hazardous Solar System and Other Objects
Poster, Wednesday, June 2, 2004, 10:00am-7:00pm, Ballroom

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[64.01] The APO-PSI TNO Survey

J.C. Barentine (Apache Point Observatory), G.A. Esquerdo, C.L. Neese (Planetary Science Institute)

We introduce a joint program of Apache Point Observatory and the Planetary Science Institute to search for large Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs) during bright time with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey 0.5m photometric monitor telescope (PT). Theoretical models as well as previous surveys for TNOs point to the probable existence of large, undiscovered bodies in the outer solar system. The discovery of three notable large objects, (50000) Quaoar, 2004 DV, and most recently 2003 VB12 (proposed name, "Sedna") support this indication. As large, distant objects appear relatively bright, the small aperture and large field of view of the SDSS PT are well suited for this work. We discuss survey design and search strategy along with early results since the start of survey operations in May 2003. We compare our results against published TNO cumulative luminosity functions. The implications for similar searches conducted with small telescopes are discussed with a view toward increasing the number of instruments worldwide dedicated to searching for distant solar system objects.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: jcb@apo.nmsu.edu

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