MSX Observations of Asteroids

E. F. Tedesco (MRC), R. G. Walker, E. A. Barker (VRI), S. D. Price (AFRL)

MSX observed the thermal emission from asteroids during the ten-month croygen phase of the mission. A small number were targeted because they were known to have displayed cometary activity in the past or are currently in comet-like orbits (3200 Phaeton, 4015 Wilson-Harrington, 4179 Toutatis, and 4197 1982 TA). Others were serendipitously observed during the course of other experiments. Over 1,000 different asteroids have crossed the focal plane. A significant, but yet to be determined, fraction of these will have been detected in the 6.8 - 10.8 micron band and lesser numbers in the other MSX bands. In addition, the UV imagers also detected a subset of these asteroids. Thus, it will be possible to create, for the first time, a data set of simultaneously obtained ultraviolet and infrared observations of asteroids. A comparison with the previous infrared asteroid survey (The IRAS Minor Planet Survey, 1992) will be made. Because the MSX 6.8 - 10.8 micron band differs from IRAS' shortest band (12 microns) and has about three times the sensitivity, even MSX observations of asteroids previously observed by IRAS will result in new information.


IRAS Minor Planet Survey, 1992, edited by Tedesco, E.F. (Phillips Laboratory Technical Report No. PL-TR-92-2049. Hanscom Air Force Base, MA).