We are currently in an era when astronomical surveys are capable of scanning large portions of the sky at relatively high cadence, producing vast amounts of data. To date we have discovered more than 1.2 million small bodies (e.g., asteroids, comets, centaurs and trans-Neptunian objects) in our Solar System and the rate of discovery will increase exponentially in the next few years when even more data-intensive surveys like the Rubin Observatory’s Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) and NASA’s Near-Earth Object Surveyor Mission are finally completed and fully operational. For example, LSST expects to produce 20TB of data per night and measure the orbits of 6 million bodies in the Solar System alone. This expected deluge of new discoveries in the near future is likely to exacerbate follow-up deficiencies but will provide opportunities for new large-scale characterization approaches.
In August 2024 we will have a 2-day focus meeting to discuss multiple aspects of follow-up characterization of the large number of detections of known and previously undiscovered small objects in our Solar System from existing and planned, large, all-sky surveys. While the meeting will focus on small bodies, the topics covered will be diverse such as observational techniques, instrumentation, and large-data handling. With these topics we hope to attract attendees with a range of expertise and thereby better optimize science outcomes from the surveys. Importantly, the meeting will expose local attendees to global cutting-edge research and techniques, which will hopefully grow and enhance the field of planetary science in the African Astronomical community.
- Objects – small Solar System bodies (SSSBs): asteroids, Centaurs, comets, Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs) etc.
- Techniques – occultations, spectroscopy, astrometry, photometry, radar, radiometry of SSSBs
- Preparation for the large number of discovery alerts of SSSBs anticipated from modern surveys
- Instrumentation required for automated follow-up observations of SSSBs