Infrared Astronomical Satellite, IRAS

Product Name
Asteroid and Comet Survey


The IRAS Asteroid and Comet Survey is the largest, most uniform and least biased survey ever conducted of asteroids and comets. Because the emission observed is thermal, the present survey is not plagued by the albedo bias to which visible wavelength analogues are susceptible. Asteroids and comets are bright infrared sources, particularly at 25 microns.
The IRAS hours and weeks-confirmation strategy was developed to discriminate against moving sources. However, to provide data for the study of the properties of known and newly-discovered asteroids, all sources with infrared colors typical of Solar system objects were recorded in auxiliary files at both seconds and hours-confirmation, with an emphasis on completeness.

In addition to data for 25 comets and 1811 known asteroids, a search for sources moving across the sky more rapidly than about 1' per hour resulted in the discovery of six new comets, an extensive cometary debris trail, and two Apollo asteroids, one of which may be an extinct cometary nucleus. Asteroids and comets moving more slowly than 1' per hour would hours-confirm and thus reside in the Working Survey Database.

Thirteen Asteroid and Comet data products were generated, of which four - the IRAS Asteroid Catalog, the Asteroid Statistics Catalog, the Low-Resolution Spectrometer Spectra of Selected Asteroids, and the IRAS Comet Catalog - are bound together with the Asteroid and Comet Explanatory Supplement and a User's Guide to the data products (see reference). The complete set of data products is listed in Table 8-1 of that volume. LAMBDA holds seven data products:

  • Catalog of IRAS Asteroid Sightings;
  • IRAS Asteroid Catalog;
  • Asteroid Statistics database;
  • IRAS Comet Catalog;
  • Asteroid Names and Pointers database;
  • Asteroid Ground-Based database;
  • Rejected Sightings database.
Supplementary asteroid data are provided in the Minor Planet Survey Database.

The IRAS Asteroid and Comet Survey, 1986, ed. D. L. Matson, JPL D-3698 (Pasadena: JPL).

Version and release date: 1.0, 1986 Oct

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A service of the HEASARC and of the Astrophysics Science Division at NASA/GSFC
Goddard Space Flight Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
HEASARC Director: Dr. Alan P. Smale
LAMBDA Director: Dr. Eric R. Switzer
NASA Official: Dr. Eric R. Switzer
Web Curator: Mr. Michael R. Greason