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The Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research was originally a project for the surveillance of earth orbiting satellites but was later applied to the detection of Near Earth Asteroids. To do this, it uses a pair of 1 meter GEO DSS telescopes. GEO DSS stands for "Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance" and are known for their wild field of view. The telescope itself is located in New Mexico.

Each night, LINEAR searches about 8% of the visible sky several times. Each image is then compared to identify any perceptible changes each point of light (potential near earth asteroid). These objects are close enough that the parallax of the earth moving, and the actual motion of the object would be detected.

Many comets have been discovered by LINEAR, a small sample of comets that are visible in 2002:

  • C/2001 HT50 (LINEAR-NEAT): perihelion of 2.8 AU on July 8, 2003
  • C/2001 N2 (LINEAR): perihelion of 2.7 on August 19, 2002
  • C/2001 RX14 (LINEAR): perihelion of 2.06 AU on January 18, 2002

Of LINEAR's discovery, probably the most well known was C/1999 S4 (LINEAR) which was well observed and photographed by ground based and space based telescopes.


http://www.ll.mit.edu/LINEAR/
http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/linear.html
http://www.meteors.com/comet_info.html