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Paper: Physical Properties of Small Solar System Bodies and Implications for Formation and Evolution of Planetary Systems
Volume: 393, New Horizons in Astronomy: Frank N. Bash Symposium 2007
Page: 3
Authors: Emery, J.P.
Abstract: In the past decade and a half, planetary astronomy has produced an unprecedented increase in the number of known small Solar System bodies, including the discovery of an entirely new population – the Kuiper Belt. With the prospect of several upcoming large surveys, this explosion of numbers will continue, setting the stage for dynamical studies of ever increasing sophistication. The true potential of these databases of objects for understanding the formation and evolution of planetary systems is realized when combined with physical studies. In this way, trends, groups, or other correlations between physical and dynamical/orbital properties can be identified from which the history of the Solar System can be pieced together. Compositional analysis of the Main Belt of asteroids unveiled a correlation between heliocentric distance and composition that led to a relatively quiescent model for at least the inner Solar System. Dynamical structure of the Kuiper Belt, on the other hand, points to a more active system. Kuiper Belt objects trapped in mean motion resonances with Neptune constitute strong evidence for orbital migration of the giant planets. The details of this dynamical evolution and potential effects on the rest of the Solar System are still debated. Physical properties of Jupiter Trojan asteroids and Kuiper Belt objects have particular importance for distinguishing among dynamical models. Ongoing and planned spacecraft missions and continued telescopic observations, aided by upcoming advancements in observing capabilities, promise a tremendous improvement in our understanding of the physical properties of small Solar System bodies.
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