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C. Ramirez (LACC), D. Deaver (LASC), R. Martinez (LAVC), J. Foster, L. Kuang, A. Ates, M. Anderson, M. Mijac (CSLA), S. Gillam, M. D. Hicks (JPL)
In the spring of 2000 we began TMAP (Table Mountain Astrometry Project), a program designed to provide timely astrometric followup of newly discovered near-Earth asteroids. Relying on undergraduate observers from the local California State Universities, we have to date been involved with the over 50 NEO and new comet discoveries. This is a significant fraction of all near-Earth asteroids discovered over the time period.
All observations are performed at JPL's Table Mountain Facility near Wrightwood California using the 0.6-meter telescope equipped with a Photometrics LN cooled 1k CCD mounted at the cassegrain focus. With this system we can routinely detect objects to R=20.5.
We have typically scheduled two runs per month on weekends bracketing the new moon. The student observers man the telescope are trained to select and obtain R-band images of candidates from the Minor Planet Center's NEO Confirmation Page (http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/cfa/ps/NEO/TheNEOPage.html). The astrometry is then reduced and submitted to the Minor Planet Center the following day.
TMAP has proven to be an efficient way both to obtain much needed astrometric measurements of newly discovered small bodies as well as to involve undergraduate researchers in planetary research. The limiting magnitudes provided by the 0.6-meter partially fills the gap between the extremely helpful and dedicated amateur astromitrists and the followup that the NEO detection programs do themselves.
This work is supported by NASA.