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Astrophysics: Asteroid Orbit Determination (New Mexico Tech) – The Summer Science Program

Astrophysics: Asteroid Orbit Determination (New Mexico Tech)

Needs based scholarship Academic College access Stem Residential Specialty Specialty Competitive application process

The Summer Science Program

Date/Time: Jun 18, 2023 - Jul 26, 2023    
Ages: 15-18
Cost: $8,400.00
Registration deadline: Mar 3, 2023

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On the first day, participants learn celestial coordinates, and how to interpret an ephemeris to select a near-earth asteroid to study. Each team of three then writes an “observing proposal” similar to what an astronomer would submit to an observatory. On the third night, teams begin observing runs at the telescope. After each run, the team locates the asteroid’s faint dot among the background stars (not always easy to do), then precisely measures its position relative to surrounding stars. Once they have at least three or four observations taken on different nights, they write software in Python to calculate the asteroid’s position and velocity vectors, then transform them into the six orbital elements that characterize the asteroid’s orbital ellipse, using numerical differentiation.


The Summer Science Program
New Mexico Tech
801 Leroy Place
Socorro, NM 87801


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