Detection and Photometry of Minor Planets and Comets with the SDSS

M. Hammergren, T. Quinn (Univ. of Washington)

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) is a project to create a 10,000 deg tex2html_wrap_inline13 digital photometric and spectroscopic survey over the north Galactic cap, along with a much deeper survey involving multiple scans in the southern Galactic hemisphere covering 225 deg tex2html_wrap_inline13 . During this survey, an unprecedented number of small Solar System bodies will be detected by their apparent motion.

The photometric survey will detect objects to a limiting magnitude (5:1 signal-to-noise) of g' = 23.3, and provide better than 10% photometry in five bands for objects brighter than z' = 20.0. Astrometric positions will be produced that will be accurate to the order of 50 milliarcseconds for objects brighter than 20.5.

We expect to observe tens of thousands of main-belt asteroids, hundreds of near-Earth asteroids and Kuiper Belt objects, and dozens of comets. Most of these observations will be discoveries, but a significant fraction of the known asteroids will also be observed.

The area and depth of the survey will increase the numbers of many classes of objects by more than an order of magnitude, and the size and accuracy of the multi-color sample will permit the common taxonomic classification of the various minor planet and comet populations. Additionally, the uniformity of selection criteria will allow the in-depth investigation of compositional gradients or differences throughout the Solar System, and impose stringent constraints on models of Solar System formation and evolution.