Presentation Title

High Precision Astrometry of Minor Planets and Natural Satellites

Faculty Mentor

Derrick Kiley

Start Date

17-11-2018 2:15 PM

End Date

17-11-2018 2:30 PM

Location

C308

Session

Oral 3

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

physical_mathematical_sciences

Abstract

Astrometry is the study of the precise positions and movements of celestial bodies. Scientists and engineers at institutions such as NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory rely heavily on the high-precision astrometry of minor planets (asteroids) and natural satellites to assist in the navigation of space craft, and to help classify these solar system bodies. Measuring and constantly updating the exact position of these bodies allows for the determination of each object’s ephemeris. This data can then be used in the prediction of events known as occultations – when a distant object is hidden from sight by another object passing in between it and the observer. Through the observation of these events from different locations and angles, astronomers are able to determine the approximate shape and size of minor planets. This paper examines the astrometric techniques developed and used by scientists at JPL, and the ongoing research that is done to obtain the positions and movements of minor planets and natural satellites in our solar system. Through the application of these techniques, we spent the Summer of 2018 at JPL’s Table Mountain Observatory making astrometric observations which allowed us to obtain 519 positions of minor planets, which have been published by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center.

Summary of research results to be presented

Over the summer, we took a total of 678 images of 145 unique objects. From those images, we were able to obtain 519 positions. All of this culminated in seven successful deliveries to the Minor Planet Center.

In addition to updating the ephemerides of minor planets, we also attempted to do the same for the natural satellites of Saturn and Mars. For Saturn, we were successful with six of its satellites: Titan, Rhea. Tethys, Dione, Hyperion and Iapetus. We attempted imaging Mars’ satellites, Phobos and Deimos, on three different nights near opposition in late July 2018, but were unsuccessful on all three nights.

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Nov 17th, 2:15 PM Nov 17th, 2:30 PM

High Precision Astrometry of Minor Planets and Natural Satellites

C308

Astrometry is the study of the precise positions and movements of celestial bodies. Scientists and engineers at institutions such as NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory rely heavily on the high-precision astrometry of minor planets (asteroids) and natural satellites to assist in the navigation of space craft, and to help classify these solar system bodies. Measuring and constantly updating the exact position of these bodies allows for the determination of each object’s ephemeris. This data can then be used in the prediction of events known as occultations – when a distant object is hidden from sight by another object passing in between it and the observer. Through the observation of these events from different locations and angles, astronomers are able to determine the approximate shape and size of minor planets. This paper examines the astrometric techniques developed and used by scientists at JPL, and the ongoing research that is done to obtain the positions and movements of minor planets and natural satellites in our solar system. Through the application of these techniques, we spent the Summer of 2018 at JPL’s Table Mountain Observatory making astrometric observations which allowed us to obtain 519 positions of minor planets, which have been published by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center.