We present here the results of the first part of the VLBI Ecliptic Plane Survey (VEPS) program. The goal of the program is to find all compact sources within $7.5^\circ$ of the ecliptic plane which are suitable as phase calibrators for anticipated phase referencing observations of spacecraft and determine their positions with accuracy at a 1.5~nrad level. We run the program in two modes: the search mode and the refining mode. In the search mode a complete sample of all the sources brighter than 50 mJy at 5 GHz listed in the Parkes-MIT-NRAO (PMN) and Green Bank 6~cm (GB6) catalogues, except those previously detected with VLBI, is observed. In the refining mode positions of all ecliptic plane sources, including those found in the search phase, are improved. By October 2016, thirteen 24-hour sessions that targeted all the source brighter 100~mJy have been observed and analyzed. Among 3321 observed target sources, 556 objects have been detected. We also ran a number of follow-up VLBI experiments in the refining mode and improved positions of 194 ecliptic sources.
F. Shu, L. Petrov, W. Jiang, et. al.
Thu, 26 Jan 17
Comments: 11 pages, 5 figures, 5 tables