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The size and shape of the near-Earth asteroid beltEvidence was recently reported for the existence of a near-Earth belt of small, Earth-approaching asteroids (SEAs) with diameters less than approximately 50 m. This result was based upon observations made with the Spacewatch Telescope of the University of Arizona during the course of an ongoing search for Earth-approaching asteroids. Using a model to describe the effects of observational bias, it was shown that the orbits observed for SEAs are inconsistent with the orbits of Earth approaches larger than approximately 1 km, and imply a relatively high fraction of Earth-like orbits among the SEAs. In this paper, new observations are included and the bias model is extended in order to quantify the number of SEAs within the near-Earth belt and to further constrain their orbital distribution. The calculation shows that relative to larger Earth approachers. SEAs are deficient in Aten-type orbits for which the semimajor axis is less than 1.0 AU. Instead, nearly all SEAs with aphelia less than 1.4 AU (5 +/- 3% of the total population) have perihelia between 0.9 and 1.1 AU, thus defining a near-Earth belt. Those SEAs with aphelia greater than 1.4 AU, however, have a distribution of orbits that are indistinguishable from the orbits of larger Earth approachers. Taking the near-Earth belt into account does not significantly alter the previously determined enhancement in the number of SEAs the previously determined enhancement in the number of SEAs compared to an extrapolation of the number of larger Earth approachers. At approximately 10 m, the enhancement factor is 40 to within a factor of 2. Also, the RMS impact velocity of SEAs with Earth (17 km/sec) is nearly the same as for larger Earth approachers (18 km/sec).
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Rabinowitz, David L. (Carnegie Inst. of Washington, Washington, DC United States)
Date Acquired
August 16, 2013
Publication Date
October 1, 1994
Publication Information
Publication: Icarus
Volume: 111
Issue: 2
ISSN: 0019-1035
Subject Category
Distribution Limits