W. Mo

Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, United States

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Publications (3)20.2 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: With the NEOWISE portion of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) project, we have carried out a highly uniform survey of the near-Earth object (NEO) population at thermal infrared wavelengths ranging from 3 to 22 μm, allowing us to refine estimates of their numbers, sizes, and albedos. The NEOWISE survey detected NEOs the same way whether they were previously known or not, subject to the availability of ground-based follow-up observations, resulting in the discovery of more than 130 new NEOs. The survey's uniform sensitivity, observing cadence, and image quality have permitted extrapolation of the 428 near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) detected by NEOWISE during the fully cryogenic portion of the WISE mission to the larger population. We find that there are 981 ± 19 NEAs larger than 1 km and 20,500 ± 3000 NEAs larger than 100 m. We show that the Spaceguard goal of detecting 90% of all 1 km NEAs has been met, and that the cumulative size distribution is best represented by a broken power law with a slope of 1.32 ± 0.14 below 1.5 km. This power-law slope produces ~13, 200 ± 1900 NEAs with D > 140 m. Although previous studies predict another break in the cumulative size distribution below D ~ 50-100 m, resulting in an increase in the number of NEOs in this size range and smaller, we did not detect enough objects to comment on this increase. The overall number for the NEA population between 100 and 1000 m is lower than previous estimates. The numbers of near-Earth comets and potentially hazardous NEOs will be the subject of future work.
    The Astrophysical Journal 12/2011; 743(2):156. · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have combined the NEOWISE and Sloan Digital Sky Survey data to study the albedos of 24,353 asteroids with candidate taxonomic classifications derived using Sloan photometry. We find a wide range of moderate to high albedos for candidate S-type asteroids that are analogous to the S-complex defined by previous spectrophotometrically-based taxonomic systems. The candidate C-type asteroids, while generally very dark, have a tail of higher albedos that overlaps the S types. The albedo distribution for asteroids with a photometrically derived Q classification is extremely similar to those of the S types. Asteroids with similar colors to (4) Vesta have higher albedos than the S types, and most have orbital elements similar to known Vesta family members. Finally, we show that the relative reflectance at 3.4 and 4.6 $\mu$m is higher for D-type asteroids and suggest that their red visible and near-infrared spectral slope extends out to these wavelengths. Understanding the relationship between size, albedo, and taxonomic classification is complicated by the fact that the objects with classifications were selected from the visible/near-infrared Sloan Moving Object Catalog, which is biased against fainter asteroids, including those with lower albedos.
    The Astrophysical Journal 10/2011; 745(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The NEOWISE dataset offers the opportunity to study the variations in albedo for asteroid classification schemes based on visible and near-infrared observations for a large sample of minor planets. We have determined the albedos for nearly 1900 asteroids classified by the Tholen, Bus and Bus-DeMeo taxonomic classification schemes. We find that the S-complex spans a broad range of bright albedos, partially overlapping the low albedo C-complex at small sizes. As expected, the X-complex covers a wide range of albedos. The multi-wavelength infrared coverage provided by NEOWISE allows determination of the reflectivity at 3.4 and 4.6 $\mu$m relative to the visible albedo. The direct computation of the reflectivity at 3.4 and 4.6 $\mu$m enables a new means of comparing the various taxonomic classes. Although C, B, D and T asteroids all have similarly low visible albedos, the D and T types can be distinguished from the C and B types by examining their relative reflectance at 3.4 and 4.6 $\mu$m. All of the albedo distributions are strongly affected by selection biases against small, low albedo objects, as all objects selected for taxonomic classification were chosen according to their visible light brightness. Due to these strong selection biases, we are unable to determine whether or not there are correlations between size, albedo and space weathering. We argue that the current set of classified asteroids makes any such correlations difficult to verify. A sample of taxonomically classified asteroids drawn without significant albedo bias is needed in order to perform such an analysis.
    The Astrophysical Journal 09/2011; 741(2). · 6.73 Impact Factor