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Killer Asteroids

Students measure the locations of small Solar System bodies in multiple images to calculate their orbital parameters. If the body will pass near a planet, the odds of an impact are also determined.

Download Quicktime Movie

Project Manual (coming soon)

Materials for Starry Night:
      Project Folder - Lab #1 - Lab #2 - Lab #3
      Locations Folder (Unzip & drop into Starry Night's "Sky Data" folder)

Materials for Guide:
      Project Folder - Lab #1 - Lab #2 - Lab #3

Online Resources

OrbitMaster is an asteroid orbit visualization tool, based on OrbitViewer by AstroArts. Check out the added functionality!

OrbitLoader is used to load many asteroid orbits at once into OrbitMaster.

There are a number of individual cases that can be preloaded into OrbitMaster, including: 2008 TC3, Apophis, a sample killer asteroid and killer comet, and the randomizer (which uses real probabilities for likely orbits).

Required Software

ImageJ & the Polaris Plug-in are used for image analysis.

Find_Orb & a planetarium program are used to compute and visualize changes in asteroid orbits. (Find_Orb is included in the "Project Folder" link above.)

An archiving utility is required to unzip image files from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which are downloaded in the GZIP format. We recommend 7-Zip for Windows.