AAS 206th Meeting, 29 May - 2 June 2005
Session 34 Sun and Solar System
Poster, Wednesday, 10:00am-7:00pm, Thursday, 9:20am-2:00pm, June 1, 2005, Ballroom A

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[34.03] A Spectral Survey of Comets with Spitzer

M.S. Kelley, C.E. Woodward (U. Minnesota), D.E. Harker (UCSD), D.H. Wooden (NASA Ames), W.T. Reach (SSC/Caltech), H. Campins (U. Central Florida), R.D. Gehrz (U. Minnesota), M.S. Hanner (U. Massachusetts), D.J. Osip (Magellan Obs.), S.M. Lederer (Cal. St. Univ. San Bernardino), E. Polomski (U. Minnesota)

Until the commissioning of the Spitzer Space Telescope our knowledge of the mid-infrared properties of comets was limited to the brightest comets as seen by observers on Earth. With Spitzer, we have the sensitivity to obtain mid-IR spectra of the average comet at a variety of heliocentric distances (>1.5 AU) that enable investigation of their physical characteristics and dust properties. We have nearly completed our initial survey program to investigate comets with favorable Spitzer targeting windows during the first year of the observatory's operation. Successful observations include both low and high resolution spectra with associated peak up images. The program mostly consists of Jupiter-family comets but also includes a few Halley-family, long period, and dynamically new comets. We have spectra of the Stardust and Rosetta mission targets (81P/Wild 2 and 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko), spectra of silicate emission in a Jupiter-family comet (62P/Tsuchinshan 1), and the potential detection of crystalline olivine features at 23.5 and 23.5 \mum in a dynamically new comet (C/2001 Q4 (NEAT)). We present preliminary results on the dust production and nuclear sizes of our program comets.

This work is supported in part by NASA/JPL contract 1263741 to the University of Minnesota.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #2
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.