Reports

2011 

During this first 3 months phase we have successfully set-up the Remote Observing Center of the Astronomical Institute. It includes a voice and video-conference Polycom station compatible with similar infrastructures used by others remote observing organizations and astronomical observatories. A dual head video card workstation will manage the VPN/SSH tunnels with the telescope operating center and will display via terminal export the GUI interfaces for operating the telescope and the instruments during the observing runs. ROC was tested and validated in both observing and videoconference meeting for over 200 hours. You can call us every workday from 7:00 to 15:00 (UTC) at our hq: visio.astro.ro (80.96.117.129).  Based on our collaboration with the Institute of Celestial Mechanics and Ephemerides Calculations of Paris Observatory we have participated in an observing run at Pic Du Midi Observatory, France, in the 16-24 November 2011 period. During this run we have obtained photometric data of NEA 1996 FG3 the target of Marco Polo ESA's space mission.

2012

The orbital distribution of the known V-type NEAs cannot explain the June peak we observe in the number of HED (howardite, eucrite, diogenite) falls. Giving that all the NEAs with MOIDs smaller than 0.1 AU are a potential source of meteorites, our proposal aimed to obtain using SpeX NIR spectra of NEAs with MOID < 0.1 AU and orbits that are approaching Earth around June. If any  V-types are discovered these asteroids may be at the origin of the meteor showers associated with the increased number of HED falls during June. In the NIR region V-type asteroids have characteristic absorption features typical of HEDs with strong pyroxene band centered near 0.9 and 1.9 μm. Further determination of bands centers and minima can be used to calculate the FsxWoy pyroxene mineralogy and to derive the most probable HED type associated. In order to investigate this problem we have submitted an observing proposal to NASA IRTF telescope for 2012B semester observing time competition. During this semester 8 such asteroids could be observed, 5 of them being PHAs (MOID < 0.05 AU). There are no previous, NIR spectroscopic observations for any of our targets. Our proposal obtained 16 hours of observations split on 4 separate runs: September 16, November 4, and December 15, 2012 and January 25, 2013. We have obtained NIR spectra for 15 asteroids thus meeting the requirement of observing 10 target during the entire project. First ISI paper on automatic spectral data analysis was published in 2012: Popescu, M., Birlan, M., Nedelcu, D.A., Modeling of asteroid spectra – M4AST, Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 544, id.A130, 10 pp.

2013

We have reduced and analyzed data acquired on 2012 and on early 2013 in the framework of our successful 2012B020 observing time proposal. For one of these asteroids - (4953) 1990 MU observed using SpeX/IRTF on 16 September 2012 we found its spectrum to be intermediary between those of Bus-DeMeo Sv and V classes - our class of interest. Using the 52-channel double CVF (0.8-2.5μm) Kelley & Gaffey (1995) inferred a compatible composition consistent with basaltic rock containing pyroxene and feldspar. Further determination of bands centers and minima will be used to calculate the FsxWoy pyroxene mineralogy and to derive the most probable HED type associated. If these preliminary results are confirmed, 1990 MU, a PHA with a 0.027 AU MOID (on June 5th) will account for a twofold increase of HED falls in summer. Moreover, with an estimated diameter of 2.8 km 1990 MU will be the largest V-type NEA and presumably one of the most important parent body of HED meteorites. In 2013A semester 4 asteroids with similar orbital constraints could be observed, 2 of them being PHAs (MOID < 0.05 AU). Our main target, the asteroid 2002 LT24 has a peculiar, low inclination orbit, with two minima of Earth-asteroid orbital distance both of 0.01 AU in mid-May and early-July thus making it particularly effective in injecting meteorites during summer. There are no previous, NIR spectroscopic observations for our targets. We proposed to use SpeX instrument, with the 0.8x15 ′′ slit, in the Prism low resolution mode, in order to cover the spectral interval 0.8-2.5μm. The visual magnitudes of our targets are in the range of 14-17. According to the SpeX limiting flux calculator web page, for a SNR of 20, taking into account a seeing of 1 arcsec for a total integration time of 60 minutes we expect to reach the magnitude 17.3 in the H filter. Based on our recent experience using MORIS for guiding, we estimate the observing time of one object in the magnitude range 16.0-17.0 to 1.5 hours. 5 hours of  observations on 25 June 2013 were awarded by the Time Allocation Comitee to our proposal. During this run we acquired spectra for 5 more asteroids obtaining for the entire project a total of 21 NIR spectra of 20 asteroids.

2014

With the acquisition of spectroscopic data of asteroids completed on the previous year we continued the reduction, analysis and interpretation of all our spectra. We have submitted two new observing proposals for the semester 2015B targeting the inferred family of asteroids previously observed - a necessary extension of our work. Two new refereed articles acknowledging the essential contribution of the Remote Observing Center financed in the framework of this project were published in 2014: D.A. Nedelcu, M. Birlan, M. Popescu, O. Badescu, D. Pricopi Evidence for a source of H chondrites in the outer main asteroid belt, Astronomy&Astrophysics, Volume 567, id L7, July 2014 and M. Popescu, M. Birlan, D. A. Nedelcu, J. Vaubaillon, C. P. Cristescu Spectral properties of the largest asteroids associated with Taurid Complex, Astronomy&Astrophysics, Accepted: 1 September 2014.  Based on our previous experience we estimate a constant publishing rate of at least 4 ISI articles at every 3 years acknowledging the project PN-II-RU-TE-2011-3-0163