Asteroid Institute | Mid-Summer Hackathon Focuses on Tool to Convert Orbital Elements

Merel Kennedy

August 16, 2022

The Asteroid Institute is seeking to make computational astronomy easier at scale


Sometimes, that means running large workloads on the cloud for asteroid discovery, object precovery, and impact probability analysis. But sometimes, we need a tool to help us do the little things that take up a lot of time and space. For this reason, the ADAM platform will include tooling to automate many of the procedural tasks that frequently come up in asteroid orbital science. One of those small tasks is converting orbital elements from one system to another.

The Asteroid Institute team and our partners at the University of Washington’s DIRAC institute met for a two-day hackathon in San Francisco to plan the next quarters’ technical priorities, and build out a simple service to handle orbital element conversion between Cartesian, Cometary, and Keplerian state vectors. You can find the orbital element converter on ADAM’s site, and we plan to make a fast bulk converter available via the ADAM API at a later point.

The code used to perform these conversions is part of an upcoming version of the THOR ( package that ADAM is using for asteroid discovery. One of the design goals behind THOR and the other core utilities of the ADAM platform is to allow for use of sophisticated astronomical computing tools with the ability to fluidly switch between coordinate systems, timescales, and reference frames. This enables users to incorporate data from disparate sources, and feed results into other analysis or visualization pipelines in the formats needed.

Stay tuned for more service additions to the ADAM platform and our journey towards making computational astronomy easier at scale.



Nate Tellis is an Asteroid Institute software engineer working on developing and scaling ADAM services on the cloud and providing clean and clear web and API interfaces for use by the astronomical community. Nate spent several years as a staff scientist with the UC Berkeley Department of Astronomy and holds his Bachelor of Science in Physics and Computer Science from McGill University, Montreal.



Merel Kennedy