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Space Science

Video Showing Half a Million Asteroid Discoveries 154

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the final-frontier dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Since 1980 over a half million asteroids have been discovered, mostly between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, now thanks to this video you can see this activity condensed into a few minutes. At full resolution it's a mesmerizing experience as new discoveries are added and the video makes it possible to see patterns in the discovery positions, for example a large number appear in line between Earth and Jupiter as astronomers started looking for smaller jovian moons after Voyagers visit to the system."

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Video Showing Half a Million Asteroid Discoveries

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  • Planets? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sTc_morphius (948420) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @11:32AM (#33381750)
    If the video is showing meteors in their orbits it appears that we might have to question the validity of calling Mars and Earth planets. It looks like neither planet really meet the guideline of "clearing its neighborhood"...
  • Re:Needs a caption (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ATestR (1060586) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @11:33AM (#33381766) Homepage

    It does appear that the white pixels represent observations of objects for which a solid orbit has not been calculated. The colored pixels appear to be objects for which an orbit is known. You will note that during the last few seconds of the video that the density of "known" objects is high, and that few(er) new objects were being displayed.

  • Re:Planets? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mbone (558574) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @11:34AM (#33381774)

    The Earth, yes. Mars, no, not really, as you point out. You could consider Mars the largest asteroid.

  • Cool. And Scary. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @11:45AM (#33381870)
    Watching that video is incredibly cool and the geek in my is really impressed with it on many levels. I must admit, however, I also find it kinda scary. I guess ignorance is bliss - I know that there are a ton of rocks floating around out there but seeing it graphically presented like that just makes me think it's damn lucky we haven't be pulverized into the stone age...

    I'm going to focus, instead, on just how cool it was because, really, it was damn cool.
  • Re:Planets? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sznupi (719324) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @11:50AM (#33381926) Homepage

    It's not about vacuuming the neighborhood (by that measure even Jupiter doesn't count), but whether or not the nearby debris is dominated by the gravitation of the body in question.

  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @11:53AM (#33381966)

    discovered in a direction of the earth's orbit opposite the sun

    Yeah, we call that "nighttime" around here.

  • Re:Needs a caption (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mbone (558574) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @11:56AM (#33382000)

    I'm interested in the dynamic influence of all of the asteroids on spacecraft navigation and the celestial mechanics of the solar system. There are lots of asteroids that influence the orbit of Mars at the meter level, and lesser but still substantial numbers that significantly perturb the Earth and the other planets. Even the large Kuiper belt objects like MakeMake have a significant effect.

  • Re:Planets? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @12:14PM (#33382222) Homepage

    It looks like neither planet really meet the guideline of "clearing its neighborhood"...

    Sure they have. It doesn't mean there can't be any other object in their orbit. Think of it in terms of ratios. Earth plus its moon, and Mars are both several orders of magnitude more massive than the sum of every other object in their orbits. Non-planets like Pluto or Ceres are several orders of magnitude less massive than the rest of the mass in their orbits.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 26, 2010 @12:29PM (#33382400)

    "I must admit, however, I also find it kinda scary."

    If it helps, at the real scale of the real solar system, those dots should probably be the size of an atom in your computer display.

  • by xMilkmanDanx (866344) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @01:51PM (#33383394) Homepage
    Yeah, I wasn't expecting that data wasn't shared quickly but more that the source of this animations data might be entered in a less timely manner. interesting to know that the pulses are from moonlight and a little disturbing as to how much of our asteroid mapping is affected by weather. That we might miss the 'big one' because there was a storm on the wrong night...
  • Re:Needs a caption (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LurkerXXX (667952) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @01:55PM (#33383450)

    The major planets are light blue, not green. I certainly don't want you as a reviewer.

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