Astronomy and Astrophysics Supplement Series 108, 279−285, 1994
© Springer Verlag

A spaceborne near-Earth asteroid detection system

B.V. Jackson, A. Buffington, P.L. Hick
Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences, San Diego, CA 92093, USA

S.W. Kahler
Phillips Laboratory/GPSG, Hanscom AFB, MA 01731, USA

D.F. Webb
Institute for Space Research, Boston College, Newton Center, MA 02159, USA


We have designed a Solar Mass Ejection Imager (SMEI) to image transient heliospheric features from Earth orbit over the entire sky every 90 minutes. The instrument is designed to detect changes on this time scale in the signals from sunlight Thomson-scattered from electrons at a brightness level of tenth magnitude per square degree of sky. We explore the possibility of using such an instrument to detect asteroids passing near the Earth. We estimate that SMEI will detect at least 13 asteroids per year over ~12m in radius.