Asteroid Institute Hosts First In-person Hackathon in Two Years!

Merel Kennedy

April 1, 2022

The B612 Asteroid Institute and our Vera Rubin Observatory partners met for a hackathon in person for the first time in two years.

Among our goals was bringing the first of our astrodynamics services, Asteroid Precovery, online for internal testing. Asteroid Precovery is part of the Asteroid Decision and Mapping (ADAM) platform, which will eventually be comprised of many such services allowing users to carry out astrodynamical calculations using open source algorithms hosted in the cloud.

The Asteroid Precovery service allows an astronomer to input the trajectory (called a state vector) of a candidate asteroid and then verify if that trajectory matches up with moving objects in historical images of the sky. In other words, it identifies previous instances of when the candidate asteroid was seen but not noticed or not associated with other observations of that asteroid. This allows the orbital arc of observations of the asteroid to be extended, which can improve the accuracy of the orbit determination and confirm the candidate asteroid orbit as being real (as opposed to a spurious or mistaken identification).

Our new service makes use of the NOIRLab data set, which is composed of seven years of sky images from three different telescopes. This data set is excellent for asteroid precovery purposes because it extends to very faint objects and has wide coverage of the sky over a long period of time.

Photos by Ed Lu and Allan Posner

Merel Kennedy