Veres, Peter, Payne, Matthew J., Holman, Matthew J., Farnocchia, Davide, Williams, Gareth V., Keys, Sonia, and Boardman, Ian. 2018. "Unconfirmed Near-Earth Objects." The Astronomical Journal 156:5. https://doi.org/10.3847/1538-3881/aac37d
We studied the Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) candidates posted on the Minor Planet Center's Near-Earth Object Confirmation Page (NEOCP) between years 2013 and 2016. Out of more than 17000 NEA candidates, while the majority became either new discoveries or were associated with previously known objects, about 11% were unable to be followed-up or confirmed. We further demonstrate that of the unconfirmed candidates, 926 ± 50 are likely to be NEAs, representing 18% of discovered NEAs in that period. Only 11% (~93) of the unconfirmed NEA candidates were large (having absolute magnitude H < 22). To identify the reasons why these NEAs were not recovered, we analyzed those from the most prolific asteroid surveys: Pan-STARRS, the Catalina Sky Survey, the Dark Energy Survey, and the Space Surveillance Telescope. We examined the influence of plane-of-sky positions and rates of motion, brightnesses, submission delays, and computed absolute magnitudes, as well as correlations with the phase of the moon and seasonal effects. We find that delayed submission of newly discovered NEA candidate to the NEOCP drove a large fraction of the unconfirmed NEA candidates. A high rate of motion was another significant contributing factor. We suggest that prompt submission of suspected NEA discoveries and rapid response to fast-moving targets and targets with fast growing ephemeris uncertainty would allow better coordination among dedicated follow-up observers, decrease the number of unconfirmed NEA candidates, and increase the discovery rate of NEAs.