The Deep Ecliptic Survey (DES)

Sample Kuiper Belt Object discovery Images from the Survey. The red and blue images are the position of the object at two different times, about 2 hours apart. White objects are background stars.

 About Me

DTM Astronomy Group Meetings 2011-2012

DTM Astronomy Group Meetings 2012-2013


The Deep Ecliptic Survey





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Summary of Observations and Results

    From 2000 through 2005 I was part of a survey project to discover and dynamically classify ~500 KBOs. These observations covered more than 800 deg2 of sky and were carried out using the 4-m Blanco and Mayall telescopes and the twin Mosaic cameras. We measured all moving objects on our fields – more than 320,000 astrometric measurements including all small body populations – and reported them to the Minor Planet Center (MPC). We targeted within ±6.5° of the ecliptic plane with the idea that all objects come through the ecliptic at some point in their orbits so we would obtain a solid sample of the main body of the Kuiper Belt as well as a handful of more unusual objects. Overall we discovered 498 objects that were designated by the MPC as well as 371 undesignated objects. The designated objects include the first Neptune Trojan, 2001 QR322 (Chiang et al. 2003); a number of dynamically extreme objects 2000 CR
105, 2000 OM67, 2001 FP185 & 2000 OJ67 (Buie et al. 2003); a high inclination Centaur 2002 PL149; and some of the first Kuiper Belt binaries 2003 UN284, (88611) Teharon, 2003 QY90 and 2005 EO304 (Kern 2006).  Dynamically this set of objects allowed us to determine that the plane of the Kuper Belt is consistent with the invariable plane of the Solar System and that there is a core of objects in low inclination, low eccentricity orbits (Elliot et al. 2005). More recently, additional scrutiny of the database has allowed us to demonstrate differences in the inclination distributions between dynamical classes (Gulbis et al. 2010) and generation of a photometric catalog for stars in the fields that we observed (Buie et al. 2011.)

Over the years our team has included:
Original Team
Dr. Bob Millis, Director of Lowell Observatory
                        (retired, the original PI of the project)
Dr. Marc Buie, SWRI
Dr. Larry Wasserman, Lowell Observatory
Dr. Jim Elliot, MIT (deceased)
Dr. Mark Wagner, LBT Observatory

Added Participants
Dr. Elisabeth Adams, Harvard CFA
Dr. Susan Benecchi (née Kern), Carnegie DTM/PSI
Kelly Clancy, Berkeley (now studying neuroscience)
Dr. Eugene Chiang, Berkeley
Dr. Amanda Gulbis, MIT/SALT
Amy Jordan
Dr. Karen Meech, Institute for Astronomy Hawaii
Dr. David Trilling, NAU

Below are a listing of papers by DES team members as well as a list of papers that have referenced our survey or followed up on objects discovered by the survey.