Asteroid Institute | ADAM: Joachim Moeyens

Katie Young

July 27, 2020

Meet Institute Researcher and University of Washington Graduate Student, Joachim Moeyens.

Joachim is an Asteroid Institute Researcher and graduate student in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Washington. Joachim is interested in big data and software driven solutions to problems in astronomy. During his undergraduate studies at the University of Washington, he was presented with the opportunity to work on a research project for the Vera Rubin Observatory’s Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST).  For his doctoral thesis, Joachim is working on algorithms that discover minor planets in astronomical surveys, in particular, on Rubin Observatory’s Solar System Processing pipelines, and on a novel algorithm named Tracklet-less Heliocentric Orbit Recovery (THOR).

Alongside Associate Professor Mario Juric, Joachim is working to understand how objects on a collision course with Earth would be discovered by the LSST. If the LSST finds such an object, would we immediately know it’s heading toward a collision? If not, when would we know? At what point does the probability of impact turn into certainty? When that happens, will there be enough time to react? Or should we deploy other telescopes to proactively follow up potentially dangerous discoveries?

To answer these questions, Joachim and others are developing a simulation framework that makes use of the ADAM platform. Powered by large scale cloud computing, ADAM enables Joachim to simulate hundreds of millions of possible asteroid trajectories, and for each trajectory predict how the LSST would observe and discover asteroids on a collision course with Earth. Each studied case faithfully simulates how the discovery and the recognition of an impending impact would unfold. The results of this study will be published in 2020 and they will give the community a roadmap on how to follow up and react to potential impactors discovered with the LSST. And in the spirit of B612’s commitment to openness, the frameworks and analysis software we have built in the process will be made available for everyone to verify and use.

Katie Young