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Proceedings Paper

Automatic search and detection of comets and asteroids
Author(s): Andrew J. Wilcox; William J. Cooke
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Paper Abstract

A family of asteroids the Apollos have orbits which cross that of the earth. Most of these bodies are small and have low reflectivity making detection difficult. A telescope of modest size equipped with a charge-coupled device (CCD) can be used to search for these objects which will inevitably sirike the earth. The destructive power of a small Apollo asteroid 200m in diameter would be on the order of 1 gigaton causing severe global damage. It is important to find and track these objects so that their numbers and orbits may be accurately determined. The discovery process is typically done by human comparison of time skewed images. Two photographic plates are aligned by hand on a blink comparator which animates the images by alternating light sources. Once a moving object has been found its celestial coordinates on each image are calculated. This process is repeated with other images to determine an orbit. These orbital elements are then compared with the elements of known objects which exist in machine readable form. This paper examines algorithms stated in Air Force Image Algebra which facilitate automation of this process and discusses issues relative to conducting a fast search for such objects. These techniques are also appropriate for detection of comets or any moving extraterrestrial body.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 November 1990
PDF: 5 pages
Proc. SPIE 1350, Image Algebra and Morphological Image Processing, (1 November 1990); doi: 10.1117/12.23584
Show Author Affiliations
Andrew J. Wilcox, Univ. of Florida (United States)
William J. Cooke, Univ. of Florida (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 1350:
Image Algebra and Morphological Image Processing
Paul D. Gader, Editor(s)

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