Jana Ticha, Milos Tichy, Michal Kocer, Michaela Honkova
Klet Observatory, Zatkovo nabrezi 4, CZ-370 01 Ceske Budejovice, South Bohemia, Czech Republic
The understanding of Near Earth Object population is important both for solar system science and for protecting human society from asteroid and comet hazard. If we would like to increase a wide public and political discussion on support of NEO research, we need to have a precise definition of our work and its strategy first.
The first step of understanding of NEO population is its discovery maintained by surveys. Secondly, an integral part of NEO discovery is astrometric follow-up. NEO follow-up astrometry is fundamental for precise orbit computation, for reasonable judging of future close encounters with the Earth including possible impact solutions as well as for planning of a wide variety of observing campaignes for the physical characterizing of these bodies (radar observations, space missions, largest ground-based and/or space telescopes).
It is essential to prepare a well-suited tools for the reasonable astrometric follow-up, for example equipment, technology, software and observing strategy.
The KLENOT Project of the Klet Observatory (South Bohemia, Czech Republic) pursued the confirmation, early follow-up, long-arc follow-up and recovery of Near Earth Objects during its first phase from 2002 to 2008. Counting tens of thousands astrometric measurements it ranked among the world most prolific professional NEO follow-up programmes.
A fundamental improvement of the KLENOT telescope was started in autumn 2008. The new mount will substantially increase telescope-time efficiency, the number of observations, their accuracy and limiting magnitude. The 1.06-m KLENOT telescope is still the largest telescope in Europe used exclusively for observations of asteroids and comets. Full observing time is dedicated to the KLENOT team. The testing observations of this "new generation" KLENOT are planned in winter and spring 2010/2011. Our aim is that the first results will be presented.
We shall also discuss an international dimension of NEO astrometric follow-up, crucial for reasonable results. A meaningful connection and collaboration with the next generation surveys will be important. The Minor Planet Center continues to work on specific tools, programs and cooperation for an international network of NEO observations. We also plan to take part and/or cooperate with the ESA's SSA-NEO Programme as a part of European 'network of sensors'.
Considering our results and experience obtained at the Klet Observatory since 1993 up to now, we have the potential to contribute to these NEO efforts.