Looking for asteroids - Hubble Asteroid Hunter project

    The Minor Planet Center (MPC) of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) and NASA have launched the Hubble Asteroid Hunter project, with the help of which any big-eyed computer or tablet user can help astronomers find new asteroid tracks and contribute to the process neural network training.

    Link to the project website

    The results of the work of user volunteers will be used by the Center for Minor Planets to calculate orbits and update the asteroid ephemeris, as well as to train neural networks working with the archive of photographs of the observatory .

    In the solar system, asteroids are mainly concentrated in the main belt, located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

    Today, more than 700 thousand asteroids are known and their number is constantly growing.

    Over the 28 years of operation, the Hubble telescope has sent hundreds of thousands of images to Earth, this is a huge array of data that needs to be processed.

    A couple of years ago, observing very distant galaxies, the light from which traveled to the Earth for billions of years, the Hubble Space Telescope accidentally discovered several asteroids that are several tens or hundreds of millions of kilometers from our planet and created curved or S-shaped tracks on photographs, and the number of tracks reached twenty pieces in one image.

    This prompted a team of astronomers, planetologists and software developers from the European Space Agency and other research institutes to launch a new science project “Hubble Asteroid Hunter” based on the world's largest civil science portal Zooniverse .

    The project database contains archival images of the Hubble telescope, which were selected in such a way that the epoch of observation and the size of the studied portion of the sky for these images can be compared with the calculated orbits of the asteroids and predict their appearance in the images.

    Any person who has access to the Internet, good vision, an understanding of the basics of astronomy and just a desire to help can take part in the project.

    To get started, you must goregistration on the site and get acquainted with the rules of work.

    The purpose of the work is to search for tracks of asteroids in the pictures and mark them.

    There is a little training on how to search and what to mark, also on the site you can change topics - choose light or dark, so that your eyes feel more comfortable.

    Photos will be shown on which you will be asked to mark the tracks of the asteroids (if any).

    The images were pre-selected in such a way as to compare the dates of observation and the calculated orbits of the asteroids, so that with a high degree of probability it is possible to find tracks of unknown asteroids.

    The results of the work of users (who are not so much involved in this project) will be used by the Center for Small Planets of the International Astronomical Union to calculate the orbits and update the asteroid ephemeris, which will help accurately predict their movement.

    In addition, tagged track data will help train neural networks to recognize such objects in images automatically. So far, scientists cannot do without human participation.

    Current project statistics can be found here .

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