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J. A. Larsen (United States Naval Academy), Spacewatch Team
The Spacewatch 0.9 meter telescope on Kitt Peak has been used to survey for and detect Earth-approaching asteroids and other solar system bodies for more than 21 years. In late 2002, a new mosaic of CCD's was introduced to the telescope, giving it a field of view of 2.9 square degrees and allowing us allowing us to survey approximately 1400 square degrees each lunation to a magnitude limit to V=21.5 using 120 second integrations. We have surveyed more than 33,000 square degrees of the sky within 20 degrees of the ecliptic to date, a factor of six improvement to our previous rate of sky coverage. The mosaic system to date has detected more than 500 Earth approachers in a consistent, automatic fashion with attention to observing conditions.
We are in the process of analyzing the detection history for the mosaic camera and will present one of our first results: the small near-Earth asteroid absolute magnitude distribution. We will also present our results for the total number of EAs detectable per unit of sky and extend that number to predict the total number of EAs detectable over the entire sky.
Spacewatch is supported by NASA, AFOSR and the Paul G. Allen Charitable Foundation and other private donors.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.