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Enabling the discovery of Earth's temporary satellite with the Large Survey of Space and Time

Objective

Earth's minimoons are a transient population of asteroids which occasionally become gravitationally bound to the Earth for a limited period of time. Their physical characterisation on a population level can lead to a thorough assessment of the population of smallest asteroids, i.e. those with a diameter smaller than 20 metres. This little-studied population of asteroids is important, on the one hand, for resolving the fundamental asteroid-meteorite linking problem, with implication for the formation of the solar system, and on the other hand, are a constant source of local scale threat to Earth’s biosphere. Due to their easy accessibility by spacecraft and the large amount of time that they spend in the vicinity of the Earth, minimoons are good targets for asteroid in situ resource utilisation, or for space missions that could retrieve an entire asteroid to Earth for laboratory analysis. The primary aim of this project is to build a dedicated tool to extract the possible minimoon detections from the data stream of the upcoming Large Survey of Space in Time (LSST), which will be the only facility able to detect minimoons on a bimonthly basis. However, even for LSST, minimoons will be on the edge of its detection capabilities since the general solar system processing tools are designed for a general case of moving objects. Minimoons, due to their exceptionally rapid movement and narrow windows of detectability require special attention. Outputs will include a peer-reviewed article, and a software package to enable the discovery of minimoons on an order of magnitude greater scale than with the standard LSST processing tools. In line with Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action objectives, the project will enable transfer of knowledge and interdisciplinary skills of mutual benefit between the applicant and the host organisation, enhance the contact networks of both, and strengthen the future career opportunities of the applicant through establishing international collaborations.

Call for proposal

H2020-MSCA-IF-2020
See other projects for this call

Coordinator

THE QUEEN'S UNIVERSITY OF BELFAST
Address
University Road Lanyon Building
BT7 1NN Belfast
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 212 933,76