Highlights of Solar System Small Bodies Research at NCU
Wing-Huen Ip1*
1Institute of Astronomy, National Central University, Jhongli, Taiwan
* presenting author:葉永烜, email:wingip@astro.ncu.edu.tw
A research program on solar system small bodies has been developed over the last 15 years at National Central University. It now covers ground-based measurements using the optical telescopes at Lulin Observatory, and observational data from international cooperative projects like Pan-STARRS and the Palomar Transients Factory (PTF). This component allows us to obtain a large number of asteroidal lightcurves which are very useful in deriving the shapes and rotational periods of these building blocks of the terrestrial planets. We have established a special program to search for asteroids with rotation periods shorter than 2 hours beyond the so-called spin cut-off. This work can provide key information on the internal property of asteroids. Another important initiative is to monitor outgassing activity of short-period comets at large heliocentric distances. Some surprising results have been found concerning coma formation of a number of Jupiter-family comets at aphelion. Comparative study of orbital dynamics and physical properties of asteroids, comets and Centaurs is also an active area of research. Another focus is about spacecraft exploration of these primitive bodies. We have special interest on the Rosetta mission of European Space Agency and will present some results on coma dynamics, chemical composition, solar wind interaction and, in particular, imaging observations of comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko by the OSIRIS optical camera, VIRTIS (visible and infrared thermal imaging spectrometer) and MIRO (microwave spectrometer) of which the NCU group has active participation.

Keywords: Solar system, asteroids, comets, light curves, Rosetta mission