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Understanding the Distribution of Near-Earth Asteroids

Science  23 Jun 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5474, pp. 2190-2194
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5474.2190

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Abstract

We have deduced the orbital and size distributions of the near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) by (i) numerically integrating NEAs from their source regions to their observed orbits, (ii) estimating the observational biases and size distribution associated with asteroids on those orbits, and (iii) creating a model population that can be fit to the known NEAs. We predict that there are ∼900 NEAs with absolute magnitude less than 18 (that is, kilometer-sized), of which 29, 65, and 6% reside on Amor, Apollo, and Aten orbits, respectively. These results suggest that roughly 40% of the kilometer-sized NEAs have been found. The remainder, on highly eccentric and inclined orbits, are more difficult to detect.

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