NASA scientists unveiled a new method for studying the movements and trajectories of asteroids, comets and the Moon in the coming years.
The new method will allow scientists to observe more asteroids in the future, with the potential to study the planets, moon, and even comets in a more accurate way.
“We’re really excited to get to work on this,” said David G. Schoell, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Washington.
“It’s an exciting step forward in understanding the orbits and movement of the Solar System.”
The technique involves analyzing the gravitational pull of asteroids orbiting other stars, which can be difficult to measure accurately because of the effects of dust and other materials in the atmosphere.
“The Sun’s gravity is much stronger on the Moon than it is on Earth,” said Schoel, who works at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
“So this is a great way to study some of the Moon’s properties, such as its composition and its composition of water, and see if we can learn something about how water might be produced.”
Asteroids are huge bodies of rock and ice that orbit in the inner solar system.
They form when material from other bodies in the Solar Wind is stripped away by the Sun’s magnetic field.
Because the Sun creates so much energy, these asteroids are constantly changing orbits and changing the orbits of the Sun.
The Moon is the nearest celestial body to the Sun, so it is where most of the activity takes place in the solar system, and it is also where asteroids come from.
The Earth is about 13 times further away, and there are only a handful of asteroids in Earth orbit.
However, most asteroids are very small and orbit within the orbit of Jupiter.
The idea is that scientists could take advantage of the relative distance between Earth and asteroids to observe them with a new, more powerful telescope.
“If you take a piece of paper and fold it, you’ll get a sheet of paper that’s just 10 micrometers across,” Schoerel said.
“You can see the paper and you can see some of these little pieces of paper in the image, but you can’t really see the object that’s on it.”
Researchers at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, used a new computer model of the orbits to create an algorithm that can measure the relative distances of the two planets in the sky.
This algorithm can determine the relative motions of asteroids.
“With a new way of looking at asteroids, we can actually do some of those things that we could not before, which is to actually take the two Earth-sized bodies that we see in the night sky and take the trajectory and then determine where they’re going,” said Andrew W. Klimas, associate director for science and operations at NASA’s Jet Propulsing Laboratory.
“By using the orbital mechanics of the moons, we have a way to understand where they come from,” Klimases added.
The method was developed by astronomers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University in Paris-Sud.
The two teams used an advanced numerical model of an asteroid, called a gravitational microlensing system (GMS), to simulate the movements in the orbits around other stars.
“Astrobiologists and other astronomers have been looking for a way of measuring the movement of asteroids over time, and the GMS algorithm offers a way for them to do that,” said Michael M. Johnson, a member of the GMA project at MIT.
The researchers used the algorithm to find the relative orbits of about a dozen asteroids in their study of the moon.
The team found that the Moon orbits in a relatively stable orbit around the Sun for about 200,000 years.
But as time passes, the orbit changes, and astronomers believe the Moon has a different orbit about the Sun every 500,000 to 1 million years.
“For a lot of the objects that we’ve studied, we’ve been able to track them as they change orbits and see the motions,” said J. Richard Feske, the James Martin Center for Space Studies (JMSCS) chair at MIT and lead author of the paper.
“In the case of the asteroids, the motion we’ve seen over time is not consistent with the motion that we’d expect if the Moon were orbiting the Sun,” he added.
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