May 31, 2022

UW-developed, cloud-based astrodynamics platform to discover and track asteroids

Posted by in categories: information science, mapping, space

A novel algorithm developed by University of Washington researchers to discover asteroids in the solar system has proved its mettle. The first candidate asteroids identified by the algorithm — known as Tracklet-less Heliocentric Orbit Recovery, or THOR — have been confirmed by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center.

The Asteroid Institute, a program of B612 Foundation, has been running THOR on its cloud-based astrodynamics platform — Asteroid Discovery Analysis and Mapping, or ADAM — to identify and track asteroids. With confirmation of these new asteroids by the Minor Planet Center and their addition to its registry, researchers using the Asteroid Institute’s resources can submit thousands of additional new discoveries.

“A comprehensive map of the solar system gives astronomers critical insights both for science and planetary defense,” said Matthew Holman, dynamicist and search algorithm expert at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian and the former director of the Minor Planet Center. “Tracklet-less algorithms such as THOR greatly expand the kinds of datasets astronomers can use in building such a map.”

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