"Most of these newly discovered objects do not show cometary activity, they are asteroids, but we don't really know how many comets are hiding out there waiting to be discovered," added Moskovitz.
As the DCT has such a wide aperture (so more like from the faintest of objects can be captured) and large single CCD (charge-coupled device), astronomers are able to image extremely diffuse features, such as the thin gaseous emissions from small comets. The DCT is also ideally located in a dark sky site in the Coconino National Forest near Happy Jack, Ariz., at an elevation of 2,360 meters (7,740 ft).
According to Moskovitz, telescopes like the DCT provide a critical role in planetary protection operations. While powerful optical telescopes are not used for sky surveys, the DCT has a very specific role to play.
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"The DCT is not well suited to large scale discovery efforts, but is one of the best facilities in the world for characterizing physical properties," he said. Although Moskovitz wasn't directly involved in the study of BA14, his main research interests focus on the characterization of NEOs using the DCT, an effort that identifies comets and asteroids that could be a potential danger in the future.