36th DPS Meeting, 8-12 November 2004
Session 21 Comets: Nuclei
Oral, Wednesday, November 10, 2004, 10:30-12:00noon, Clark

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[21.04] The Nucleus of Comet 2P/Encke as Observed in the Fall 2003 Apparition

Y.R. Fernandez (UH-IfA), C.M. Lisse (UMD/JHU-APL), D.G. Schleicher (Lowell Obs.), S.J. Bus (UH-IfA), M. Kassis (WMKO), J.L. Hora, L.K. Deutsch (CfA)

We present results from our Fall 2003 multiwavelength observing campaign for Comet 2P/Encke. We obtained imaging photometry of the comet in visible, near-IR, and mid-IR wavelengths, along with near-IR spectroscopy, using instruments at NASA/IRTF and at the UH 88-inch telescope. The data span late October to early November 2003, when the comet was only 0.3 to 0.6 AU from Earth. Our data reveal properties of the nucleus, since P/Encke appeared with very little dust coma. In particular we have obtained one of the few high signal-to-noise spectra of any cometary nucleus. Our vantage point was changing quickly during the observations so we had different views of the nucleus; this allows us to (a) check for differences in thermal and reflectance properties over different regions on the surface, and (b) look for changes in rotational signatures and light curve shapes that would suggest complex rotation. The science goals are to build upon our earlier work and further constrain the nucleus's physical, rotational, and reflectance properties. We discuss our latest findings on the size, shape, albedo, phase behavior, color, spectral signature, and rotation state of the nucleus. This work was supported in part through a Spitzer Fellowship to YRF.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 36 #4
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.