We report on results of observations of near-Earth objects (NEOs) performed with the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope as part of our ongoing (2009-2011) Warm Spitzer NEO survey ("ExploreNEOs"), the primary aim of which is to provide sizes and albedos of some 700 NEOs. The emphasis of the work described here is an assessment of the overall accuracy of our survey results, which are based on a semi-empirical generalized model of asteroid thermal emission. The NASA Spitzer Space Telescope has been operated in the so-called Warm Spitzer mission phase since the cryogen was depleted in 2009 May, with the two shortest-wavelength channels, centered at 3.6μm and 4.5μm, of the Infrared Array Camera continuing to provide valuable data. The set of some 170 NEOs in our current Warm Spitzer results catalog contains 28 for which published taxonomic classifications are available, and 14 for which relatively reliable published diameters and albedos are available. A comparison of the Warm Spitzer results with previously published results ("ground truth"), complemented by a Monte Carlo error analysis, indicates that the rms Warm Spitzer diameter and albedo errors are ±20% and ±50%, respectively. Cases in which agreement with results from the literature is worse than expected are highlighted and discussed; these include the potential spacecraft target 138911 2001 AE2. We confirm that 1.4 appears to be an appropriate overall default value for the relative reflectance between the V band and the Warm Spitzer wavelengths, for use in correction of the Warm Spitzer fluxes for reflected solar radiation.
- infrared: planetary systems
- minor planets, asteroids: general
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science