Arecibo Observatory at the Small Bodies Assessment Group

Planetary Radar


NASA’s Small Bodies Assessment Group (SBAG) met on June 7-9th, 2022 for the first meeting following the release of the Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey. The hybrid meeting took place in Washington D.C. and virtually.

Scientists from the Arecibo Observatory (AO) presented a number of talks and discussed the importance of the facility for the future of radar science.

Luisa Fernanda Zambrano-Marin, data analyst at the Arecibo Observatory, gave an Early-Career Invited Talk titled “Inspection of Fast Rotating Asteroids Observed with Arecibo Observatory’s Planetary Radar S-Band System.”

The second early-career invited talk was presented by Kiana McFadden, a graduate student at the University of Arizona working with former AO scientist Dr. Ellen Howell. Her research, ‘Thermophysical Modeling of Near-Earth Asteroid 2100 Ra-Shalom”, also uses radar data from the Arecibo Observatory.

Continuous Wave Data collected by the Arecibo Observatory of 2019 OK was shown at the SBAG meeting. The figure is featured in the recent journal publication analyzing the asteroid by AO Data Analyst Luisa Zambrano-Marin.

Dr. Maxime Devogèle, a scientist at the Arecibo Observatory, gave a Lightning Talk presentation called “Radar and Optical Polarimetry as Tools for Planetary Defense.” He discussed the apparent connection between the albedo (brightness) of an asteroid with the polarization measurements made with Arecibo radar.

AO Scientist Dr. Devogèle showed the connection between the brightness of the asteroids (lowest albedo in red, highest albedo in blue) with measurements of the asteroids’ polarizations acquired by radar observations.

Three-dimensional computational model of asteroid 3200 Phaethon developed by AO scientist Dr. Sean Marshall. This asteroid is the target of the upcoming Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency DESTINY+ mission. The model was shown at the SBAG meeting.

An update on Planetary Radar at the Arecibo Observatory was given by Dr. Flaviane Venditti, Head of Planetary Science at Arecibo. The presentation covered active educational programs and #AOScienceNow, including the currently operating instruments and the ongoing analysis of archived data from the 305-m telescope.

Dr. Venditti also highlighted several ongoing radar studies, and provided a list of publications since the previous SBAG meeting:

• Shepard, M.K., de Kleer, K., Cambioni, S., Taylor, P.A., Virkki, A.K., Rívera-Valentin, E.G., Sanchez-Vahamonde, C.R., Zambrano-Marin, L.F., Magri, C., Dunham, D. and Moore, J.Asteroid 16 Psyche: Shape, Features, and Global Map, The Planetary Science Journal 2(4), 125, 2021.

• Zegmott, T.J., Lowry, S.C., Rożek, A., et al. Detection of the YORP effect on the contact binary (68346) 2001 KZ66 from combined radar and optical observations, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 507(4), pp.4914- 4932, 2021.

• Reddy, V., et al. Near-earth asteroid (66391) Moshup (1999 KW4) observing campaign: Results from a global planetary defense characterization exercise, Icarus, p.114790, 2022.

• McGlasson, R., Marshall, S.E., Venditti, F.C.F., et al. Radar and Lightcurve Observations and a Physical Model of Potentially Hazardous Asteroid 1981 Midas, Planetary Science Journal, 3(2), 35, 2022.

• Rivera-Valentín, E.G., et al., 2022. Arecibo S-band Radar Characterization of Local-scale Heterogeneities within Mercury’s North Polar Deposits, The Planetary Science Journal, 3(3), 62, 2022

• Zambrano-Marin, L. et al. Radar and optical characterization of near-Earth asteroid 2019 OK, Planetary Science, 3(6), 138, 2022.

Article written by Dr. Tracy Becker - AO Collaborator / SwRI Research Scientist Contact:
Arecibo Media Contact
Ricardo Correa
Universidad Ana G. Méndez (UAGM)
787-878-2612 ext. 615