Asteroid Zoo Talk

Some Useful Observations For Asteroid Hunting!

  • MinaMYoussef by MinaMYoussef

    Hi everybody! You're all doing a great job contributing to science, preserving life on earth, and protecting all the people out there! Respect to everyone who's joining projects on Zooniverse, especially asteroidzoo!

    I have some observations that I've come down to while using this platform. First of all, the idea itself of this website is really incredible. However, this might work well on big asteroids or even sharper and more focused images. Small Asteroids are hardly detectable! I believe if the images were of better quality or if one could zoom in and out, anyone can detect small asteroids that even computers cannot detect! Although some AI computers out there have the ability to detect larger asteroids that are observable to the naked eye, other killer asteroids lurking out there in the dark remains undetectable by humans, both scientists and regular citizens, and highly intelligent computers. That's not what we're talking about here; what we aim for here is to find asteroids that we know nothing about; asteroids that we cannot observe by naked eye or even by telescopes.

    Part of the reason why we cannot see most asteroids out there might be the fact that the stars, tiny shiny dots in images, are too huge compared to the scale of some asteroids, or even compared to the scale of most of the asteroids. There are basically 7 ways we can observe asteroids moving in the night sky. The first one would be seeing an asteroid, clearly, that is moving in its linear path. The second one would be observing an asteroid that is obscuring the view of a star; there are 2 ways that can happen, and these would be if the asteroid was far apart from a star and then flies away from the star and the asteroid, in this case, would look like a dot in the middle of a shining star, or the asteroid could be already at the center of the shining dot (aka star) and then moves far apart from the star, proceeding in its regular orbit (In that case, we would view a slight distortion in the light of the star). The 3rd way would be that the asteroid revolves around a dot (star) in a slightly elliptical orbit (planet-like orbit), in that case the asteroid does get pulled by the star's (That star could be a planet or any object within our solar system) gravitational pull. The 4th would be an asteroid near the ends of the image's frame (Bottom, top, right, left), and it's moving outside the frame (in that case, we'll observe a dot then it vanishes away, as it moves outside the frame of the image). The 5th way would be a dot (asteroid) suddenly appearing in one of the images (in that case, it came from outside of the frame; it might then stop as the image set ends or it can continue moving in its linear path). The 6th and most notable way we can see, or actually not see, an asteroid, is if the asteroid was small and slow enough to move behind a shining dot (star) without us noticing of its existence. The 7th and last way we can see asteroids is by seeing one moving towards a star (shiny dot), disappearing, then ,once again, appearing and moving in it's regular path.

    My humble suggestions would be shooting a panorama image set of the whole night sky (to avoid missing asteroids going out of the image's frame), increasing the time-period between the images in an image set to a couple of hours or days (I know that might be an inefficient strategy, but it's, sometimes, worth it, as we could better capture and detect asteroids moving behind stars and increase the detection of unknown asteroids, we never knew exist, by at least 10%), working on understanding the structure and chemistry of asteroids rather than just their size, velocity, and [orbit](http://neo.jenter link description, increasing the quality of pictures, and finding a way to capture asteroids moving behind stars, maybe using future technology or using light, gravitational pulls, and other frequencies and radar.

    Last but not least, finding, mining, and redirecting asteroids is a serious business that is on top of all space exploration concerns. It just needs to be addressed with more concern and awareness.

    Thanks for your time, appreciate your concern, and looking forward to hearing all of your opinions soon! Keep up the good work!


  • nicro46 by nicro46

    Hi MinaMYoussef, only a few details about your post. Asteroids we are talking about are of course only those of our Solar System (orbits mostly within the orbit of Jupiter, Mars and Earth). It is therefore not possible that some of these many orbit in a few stars or they are still gravitationally influenced. The fact that they can hide any star is certainly possible, but given the large relative velocity is not helpful.


  • MinaMYoussef by MinaMYoussef

    My apologies @nicro46. There are three regions from where asteroids and comets come from. Asteroids come from the Asteroid main belt, inside our solar system, which is between Mars and Jupiter. In that case they are called MBA (Main asteroid Belts). Whereas Comets come from the Kuiper belt beyond the orbit of Neptune, passing once or twice in human lifetime or from the Oort Cloud in the outer reaches of the solar system, passing near the sun once every hundreds or thousands of years.

    I've edited the post. You're right, the nearest star is about 4 light years away; therefore it is beyond our solar system, and also very far away from asteroids in our neighborhood. Accordingly, asteroids cannot get pulled by these stars' gravitational pull. Everything we see in the night sky is bright. Planets can look like stars in the images; in that case only can these planets pull asteroids by means of gravitational pull. You're also right about asteroids having larger relative velocities. But considering varying distances and sizes, asteroids hiding behind stars could have a relatively low possibility.

    Here are some further interesting facts concerning asteroids and minor planets:
    Minor Planets have several types: Apollo, Aten, Amor, IEO (innner Earth objects), of which Apollo and Aten ones are more hazardous; therefore, classified as NEOs and PHAs/PHOs. NASA's NEO program at JPL classifies PHAs or PHOs as all asteroids with an Earth Minimum Orbit Intersection Distance (MOID) of 0.05 AU or less than an Absolute Magnitude (H) of 22.0; in other words, objects farther closer than (roughly 7,480,000 km or 4,650,000 mi) or are bigger than about 150 m (500 ft) in diameter are PHAs or PHOs. This ``potential'' to make close Earth approaches does not mean a PHA will impact the Earth. It only means there is a possibility for such a threat.