Research

WISE_with_hat

Artist’s conception of the NEOWISE spacecraft. Image credit: NASA, JPL/Caltech.

An asteroid impact is the only natural disaster we have the technology to prevent. But to prevent an impact, we’d need time–ideally decades– to prepare. Therefore, what we need to do now is discover all of the potentially hazardous asteroids.
I’m part of several asteroid discovery and characterization teams, including:
  • NASA’s NEOWISE spacecraft. NEOWISE is an infrared telescope that orbits the Earth, taking a photograph of the sky every eleven seconds. NEOWISE has seen over 158,000 asteroids, and has discovered over 30,000.
  • NEOCam, a NASA mission that is currently in Extended Phase A. NEOCam, an infrared space telescope, would measure the sizes and brightnesses of millions of asteroids, and would be the largest infrared survey of comets.
  • Internal IPAC/Caltech asteroid detection development.
My work focuses on increasing asteroid detection efficiency via techniques such as machine learning, and characterizing asteroids by measuring their size.  I also use computer simulations of asteroid surfaces to measure asteroid thermal inertias, a process known as thermophysical modeling. Thermal inertia measurements can be linked to asteroid composition, can constrain the presence of regolith, and provide valuable information to spacecraft mission planners.

 

Selected Publications:

C. R. Nugent et al., “Observed asteroid surface area in the thermal infrared,” The Astronomical Journal. vol. 153, Jan 2017.

C. R. Nugent et al., “NEOWISE Reactivation Mission Year Two: Asteroid Diameters and Albedos,” The Astrophysical Journal, vol. 152, p. 63, Sept. 2016

C. R. Nugent et al., “NEOWISE Reactivation Mission Year One: Preliminary Asteroid Diameters and Albedos,” The Astrophysical Journal, vol. 814, p. 117, Dec. 2015

C. R. Nugent et al., “The Yarkovsky Drift’s Influence on NEAs: Trends and Predictions with NEOWISE Measurements,” The Astronomical Journal, vol. 144, p. 75, Sept. 2012

C. R. Nugent et al., “Detection of Semimajor Axis Drifts in 54 Near-Earth Asteroids: New Measurements of the Yarkovsky Effect,” The Astronomical Journal, vol. 144, p. 60, Aug. 2012

For copies and a list of coauthored papers, see arXiv.

neocam_wide

Artist’s conception of NEOCam. Image: JPL/Caltech.

 

 

 

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