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Asteroid and NEA detection models

R. Michelsen

1

, H. Haack

2

, A. C.Andersen

3

, and J. L. Jørgensen

41

Astronomical Observatory, NBIfAFG, Copenhagen University, Juliane Maries Vej 30, 2100 Copenhagen Denmark,E-mail: rene@astro.ku.dk

2

Geological Museum, Copenhagen University, Øster Voldgade 5-7, 1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark, E-mail:hh@savik.geomus.ku.dk

3

NORDITA, Blegdamsvej 17, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark, E-mail: anja@nordita.dk

4

Ørsted*DTU,MIS, Building 327, Technical University of Denmark, 2800 Lyngby, Denmark, E-mail: jlj@oersted.dtu.dk

Abstract

We determine the possible detection rate of asteroids withthe Bering mission. In particular we examine the outcomeof the Bering mission in relationto the populationsof Near-Earth Asteroids and main belt asteroids. This is done byconstructing synthetic populations of asteroids, based onthe current best estimates of the asteroid size-distributions.From the detailed information obtained from the simula-tions, thescientiﬁcfeasibilityofBeringisdemonstratedandthe key technical requirement for the scientiﬁc instrumentson Bering is determined.

1. Introduction

TheBeringmissionisanautonomousmission,withthepur-pose of making sample observations of the inner asteroidpopulations. In particular, Bering will travel through mostof the space between Venus and the outer parts of the as-teroid belt at 3.5 AU[9], and will thus be able to observemembersof the Near-EarthAsteroid(NEA) population,ob- jects in the asteroid main belt, and objects

en route

from themain belt toward the NEAs. The instruments on board thespacecrafts are the Advanced Stellar Compass (ASC) [12]thatallowsBeringtodetectandfollowmovingobjects,withthe purpose of orbit determination of the objects. In addi-tion, the ASC can control a small telescope[13], so thatobservations of the objects can be obtained. In this way,Bering is able to provide both an orbit as well as a physicalcharacterisation of the objects. The key point is the auton-omy of the ASC and the telescope, that enables Bering tosystematically detect and follow objects down to object di-ameters at the meter level[12,13]. The scientiﬁc objectives
have been discussed in detail elsewhere[1].One of the key issues to address is the two-fold questionof how many objects Bering will be able to observe. First,this question is important to answer as a basis for the scien-tiﬁc objectives, and with the need to describe the scientiﬁcfeasibility. Second, the number of objects detected will de-pendonthe limitingmagnitudeofthe ASC, and is thus vitalfor the technical requirements to the mission, also in termsof the number of objects that needs to be processed by theautonomous spacecraft platform. It is however not trivialto answer this question [1], hence we have a constructed asimulator capable of examining the detailed aspects of thedetections.There already exists a number of simulations of the detec-tion of NEAs[16,11], however these simulations di

ﬀ

ersfrom our needs in several ways. First of all, they are madefor ground based surveys for NEA discovery and follow-up. For Bering, we need to be able to simulate observationsmade by a spacecraft in an interplanetary orbit. Also, thesimulations are normally strongly restricted in the size of the objects included. For the Bering mission, we need tohave detailed knowledgeof for how long time an object canbe observed, as well as the angular velocity. For instance,the trailing losses experiencedby groundbased surveysdueto fast moving objects across the ﬁeld of view during theexposure, are addressed by the Bering ASC capabilities tohandle fast moving objects, however we need to quantifythe requirements to the ASC.Thus, we in general need to understand how Bering willperformwhen inserted into a givenasteroid population,andwith the possibility of adjusting parameters, like the limit-ing detection magnitude and the orbit. We shall here focuson synthetic populations of the NEAs and the main belt as-teroids. The synthetic objects are treated as massless testparticles in the simulation, and after an initial sorting, theobjects are numerically integrated. This allows a carefulexamination of the requirements to the ASC when probingmembers of these populations down to the meter-range.

2. Asteroid magnitudes and diameters

As discussed[1], one of the challenges when observing as-teroids are their rapid and drastic variations in magnitude.Themagnitudeofanasteroiddoesnotonlydependonphys-ical parameters like the size and the albedo, but also on thedistances to the Sun and the observer, and the phase angle.Depending on the geometry,there can thus be a strong timedependency on the magnitude variations.The magnitudes of asteroids are normally described by atwo-parameter model. The absolute magnitude

H

of an as-teroid is deﬁned as the V-magnitude at unit distance to theSun (

r

) and the Earth (

∆

), and at phase angle

α

=

0. The

second parameter is the slope parameter

G

, which is an ex-pression for the geometric albedo. Thus the relation be-tween the observed V-magnitude and

H

and

G

V

=

H

+

5log

r

∆

−

2

.

5log[(1

−

G

)

Φ

1

(

α

)

+

G

Φ

2

(

α

)](1)where

Φ

1

and

Φ

2

are functions of the phase angle

α

.

r

and

∆

are measured in AU.Only for a few objects has the slope parameter

G

and thealbedo

p

V

been measured. The desire however persists totranslate the absolute magnitude

H

into a diameter

D

of theobject. This can be done by an

a priori

D

(km)

=

1329

·

10

−

H

/

5

/

√

p

V

(2)where

D

is in units of km. Care is needed when evaluat-ing the sizes of the smallest sub-kilometer asteroids, as theactual albedo of these objects is currently not known.

3. The NEA population

During recent years, many publications have been made inthe attempt of establishing the size distribution of Near-Earth Asteroids. Bottke and collaborators [3] have con-structed a de-biased estimate of the NEA size distribution,for the range up to absolute magnitude

H

=

22, by simu-lating a ground based NEA survey, and taking into accountthenatureofthesourceregionsoftheNEAs. Forthisrange,they ﬁnd a best ﬁt of the form log

N

=

α

H

+

β

, where

N

isthe accumulated number of objects and

α

and

β

H

=

30 (

D

=

3m), derived from the lunar crater size-frequency distribution. Their distribution corresponds wellto the estimates obtained from ground based NEO surveys[18]. Werner obtains a distribution similar to that of Bottke,however at around

H

=

21 the distribution shows a turningpoint, with a much steeper slope. For the even smaller end,Brown and collaborators [5] reports satellite observationsof bolide detonations in the Earth’s atmosphere, for objectsin the range of 1m to 100m. The distribution derived fromthese observations is consistent with the work of Werner.It should be stressed that the estimated populations arebased on indirect methods, and that various factors mayinﬂuence the actual, present size distribution. One of thefactors is the translation from

H

to

D

, as the albedo

p

V

of the NEA population is more or less unknown. Thereare indications, for instance in the work of Werner, that thesmallest NEAs have larger albedo. This is compatible withour hypothesis that the smallest asteroids are young colli-sional fragments without surface dust, and with minimumexposure to cosmic radiation, hence the objects have largeralbedo.The distributionwe haveadoptedforthe NEA populationisa combination of the estimation by Bottke, combined withthe work by Werner, supported by the measurements byBrown. We shall thus split the distribution into three parts,

Figure 1. The absolute magnitude (H) distribution of theasteroid populations of our simulations. N is the accumu-lated number of objects. The solid line is the NEA popula-tion, the dashed line is the main belt distribution. For the NEA population, we adopt a three-step distribution, based on the indicationsof a steeper increase in the number of thesmaller objects, compared to the larger objects. The mainbelt follows a simple linear distribution in (H

,

log

N), how-ever with certain limitations of this distribution (see text for discussion).

with bins of 1 magnitude, aslog

N

=

0

.

35

H

−

3

.

43 ; 15

≥

H

<

22 (3a)

N

=

10303 ;

H

=

[22

,

24] (3b)log

N

=

0

.

54

H

−

8

.

5 ; 24

<

H

≤

32

.

7 (3c)The distribution can be seen in Fig.1.The ﬁrst part isthus adopted from Bottke, followed by a plateau. The lastpart of the distribution is taken from the low-albedo dis-tribution of Werner. The

H

=

32

.

7 has been chosen, sothat with an albedo of

p

V

=

0

.

17, this corresponds to adiameter of

D

=

1m. The total number of objects in thedistribution amounts to log

N

=

9

.

158, or approximately1

.

4

×

10

9

objects. For the slope parameter we initially as-sumed

G

=

0

.

15, a low-albedo population, but later wemade tests with a high-albedo population using

G

=

0

.

32,corresponding to

p

V

≈

0

.

25 (see the discussion of the re-sults below).Besides the distribution in terms of

H

, the de-biased dis-tribution by Bottke also suggests a spatial distribution of the objects, in terms of the eccentricity, the semi-majoraxisand the inclination. However, for the above synthetic popu-lation, we have selected a uniformdistributionof the orbitalelements (within the deﬁnitions of a Near-Earth Object). Inprinciple, this is a failure of the distribution, relative to thecurrent best estimates. However, the suggested distributionoftheorbitalelementsis onlyvalidforobjectswith

H

<

22.There is only vanishing statistical material for smaller ob- jects (larger

H

), hence there is no basis to assume a contin-uation of the distributionin the orbitalelements for

H

>

22.In any case, the number of objects with

H

≤

22 amounts toapprox. 18600, a vanishing number compared to the totalnumber of objects.

4. The main belt population

The main belt population is very much di

ﬀ

erent from thatof the NEAs. First of all, our observational knowledge isstrongly restricted to only the very largest objects, due tothe far distances to the objects.Durda and collaborators [8] have made numerical modelsof the collisional evolution of the main belt asteroids. Theobserved distribution shows two bumps relative to a linear(

D

,

log

N

) ﬁt, for objects with

D

=

100km and

D

=

5km.By adjusting the parameters of their models, Durda is ableto reproduce these bumps, and thus to obtain an estimate of the main belt distribution down to 1m in size. Other esti-mates for the distribution exists (see[7] for an overview),and they tend to agree for objects down to 1km.For these simulations we shall adopt the distribution byDurda, with some modiﬁcations. The focus of our simula-tions are on the sub-kilometer objects, hence for the range

H

=

H

=

9

.

5.This involves 694 of the largest known objects, and causesan initial bump in the distribution (Fig.1). We then makea linear ﬁt to the distribution of Durda for their size range100m to 50km,log

N

=

0

.

33

H

−

0

.

62 (4)and apply this distribution for the magnitude interval

H

=

[10;27

.

94] in steps of 0.5 magnitudes. Using the albedoreferred to by Durda of

p

V

=

0

.

1178, the

H

=

27

.

94 cor-responds to an object size of

D

=

10m. However, for theslope parameter we use

G

=

0

.

15 (

p

V

=

0

.

17), a slightlylarger albedo than used by Durda, so that the smallest ob- ject in our distribution in fact has

D

=

8m.This distribution has two ﬂaws. First of all, it does not takethe mentioned known bumps of the large objects into ac-count. However, the number of objects among the largesizes neglected in this manner is completely negligible incomparison with the total number of objects in this syn-thetic population. The largeobjects are as well not the mainobjective of this work, but should under all circumstancesbe treated separately,taking intoaccountthe alreadyknownobjects. The works by Durda and by Davis [7] seems to in-dicate an

increase

in the slope of the size distribution for

D

<

100m. Whether this holds true or not is one of thescientiﬁc objectives of Bering. However, it means that rela-tive to these estimates, our synthetic main belt populationisheavily underestimating the number of 10m objects, with afactor of 10 or more. This must be taken into account,whenreviewing the results of the simulations.The total number of objects in the main belt population isthus log

N

=

8

.

6, or around 4

×

10

8

objects. The orbitalelements are assumed to be uniformly distributed.

5. The numerical approach

With the large number of objects involved in estimating thedetection rate, a direct numerical integration is not feasibleduetotheveryheavydemandsonCPU time anddiskspace.Instead, we adopted a solution that provide a rough sorting

Figure 2. Exampleof the distancevariationbetweenBeringand a synthetic object (a test particle). The MOID is theglobal minimum of the distance.

of the objects, discarding those that would not become ob-servable from Bering within a reasonable time. A simpleidea is to calculate the minimum orbital intersection dis-tance (MOID) between the Bering orbit and every object.If the MOID distance is su

ﬃ

ciently small, so that in a bestcase situation the object is observable within the magnitudelimits, the object is selected for subsequent detailed anal-ysis, otherwise it is discarded. Instead of a purely numer-ical approach for determining the MOID, for instance byintegrating the orbits and calculating the smallest distancebetween Bering and the objects, we use a semi-analyticapproach, implementing the MOID method suggested bySitarsky[19]. For two Keplarian orbits, the distance func-tion can be written as

f

(

V

,

v

)

=

12

(

R

−

r

)

2

,

(5)where(

V

,

v

)arethetrueanomaliesoftheobjectsofconcern,and

R

,

r

are the cartesian coordinates relative to some ori-gin. By examining the derivatives of this function, Sitarskyderives analytical equations for the minimum of the func-tion, the MOID. These equations can, for the general case,not be solved analytically, hence we apply a version of theNewton-Raphson method that is suited for non-linear cases(Press et al. [17]), and in particular ensures convergencetoward some minimum. This problem is however not triv-ial. Often, the solution must be sought in very rough ter-rain, Fig.2, hence one set of initial conditions may not beenough to ensure that the global minimum is found. Thuswe solve the equations for several sets of initial conditions,and from the resulting local minima, we accept the smallestvalue as the MOID. We veriﬁed the implementation of theMOID method against a number of di

ﬀ

erent orbit scenar-ios, and compared with the minimum distance between thetwo orbits, obtained by direct numerical integration.After the MOID has been calculated, we apply a selectioncriteria for the sorting. We calculatethe

V

-magnitudeof theasteroid by using the MOID as the distance to the observer.The perihelion distance, the smallest distance to the Sun, isused as the asteroid-Sun distance. Further, the phase angleis set to zero. This is truly a best case conﬁguration of theasteroid. Ifthecalculatedmagnitudeis

V

≤

V

lim

,where

V

lim

is the Bering detection limit, the object is saved, otherwise

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