Near-Earth Asteroids (or, Why Dinosaurs Should Have Studied Astronomy)
An asteroid impact is the only natural disaster we have the technology to prevent. But to successfully deflect an asteroid, we would need years, ideally decades, to prepare. Therefore, our current priority must be to discover and track the asteroids that get close to Earth.
Astronomers have already discovered over 90% of asteroids 1 km across or larger with orbits that bring them close to Earth. Today, asteroid surveys are working towards a second goal of discovering over 90% of the asteroids 140 m across and larger in these orbits.
I will discuss my work into asteroid discovery and characterization. I am part of the IPAC team applying machine learning techniques to the problem of asteroid detection, part of the NEOCam extended Phase A work. As a member of the NEOWISE team, I've measured asteroid diameters and albedos. Finally, I am also involved in thermophysical modeling, the process of constraining asteroid surface thermal inertia.