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NEOExchange - an online portal for NEO and Solar System science

Lister, T. A., Gomez, E. ORCID:, Chatelain, J., Greenstreet, S., MacFarlane, J., Tedeschi, A. and Kosic, I. 2021. NEOExchange - an online portal for NEO and Solar System science. Icarus 364 , 114387. 10.1016/j.icarus.2021.114387

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Las Cumbres Observatory (LCO) has deployed a homogeneous telescope network of ten 1-m telescopes to four locations in the northern and southern hemispheres, with a planned network size of twelve 1-m telescopes at 6 locations. This network is very versatile and is designed to respond rapidly to target of opportunity events and also to perform long term monitoring of slowly changing astronomical phenomena. The global coverage, available telescope apertures, and flexibility of the LCO network make it ideal for discovery, follow-up, and characterization of Solar System objects such as asteroids, Kuiper Belt Objects, comets, and especially Near-Earth Objects (NEOs). We describe the development of the “LCO NEO Follow-up Network” which makes use of the LCO network of robotic telescopes and an online, cloud-based web portal, NEOexchange, to perform photometric characterization and spectroscopic classification of NEOs and follow-up astrometry for both confirmed NEOs and unconfirmed NEO candidates. The follow-up astrometric, photometric, and spectroscopic characterization efforts are focused on those NEO targets that are due to be observed by the planetary radar facilities and those on the Near-Earth Object Human Space Flight Accessible Targets Study (NHATS) lists. Our astrometric observations allow us to improve target orbits, making radar observations possible for objects with a short arc or large orbital uncertainty, which could be greater than the radar beam width. Astrometric measurements also allow for the detection and measurement of the Yarkovsky effect on NEOs. The photometric and spectroscopic data allows us to determine the light curve shape and amplitude, measure rotation periods, determine the taxonomic classification, and improve the overall characterization of these targets. We are also using a small amount of the LCO NEO Follow-up Network time to confirm newly detected NEO candidates produced by the major sky surveys such as ATLAS, Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) and PanSTARRS (PS1). We will describe the construction of the NEOexchange NEO follow-up portal and the development and deployment methodology adopted which allows the software to be packaged and deployed anywhere, including in off-site cloud services. This allows professionals, amateurs, and citizen scientists to plan, schedule and analyze NEO imaging and spectroscopy data using the LCO network and acts as a coordination hub for the NEO follow-up efforts. We illustrate the capabilities of NEOexchange and the LCO NEO Follow-up Network with examples of first period determinations for radar-targeted NEOs and its use to plan and execute multi-site photometric and spectroscopic observations of (66391) 1999 KW4, the subject of the most recent planetary defense exercise campaign.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Physics and Astronomy
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0019-1035
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 28 July 2021
Date of Acceptance: 13 February 2021
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 21:46

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