• Asteroid orbital ranging using Markov-Chain Monte Carlo

      Oszkiewicz, D.; Muinonen, K.; Virtanen, J.; Granvik, M. (The Meteoritical Society, 2009-01-01)
      We present a novel Markov-Chain Monte-Carlo orbital ranging method (MCMC) for poorly observed single-apparition asteroids with two or more observations. We examine the Bayesian a posteriori probability density of the orbital elements using methods that map a volume of orbits in the orbital-element phase space. In particular, we use the MCMC method to sample the phase space in an unbiased way. We study the speed of convergence and also the efficiency of the new method for the initial orbit computation problem. We present the results of the MCMC ranging method applied to three objects from different dynamical groups. We conclude that the method is applicable to initial orbit computation for near-Earth, main-belt, and transneptunian objects.
    • KLENOT Project 2002-2008 contribution to NEO astrometric follow-up

      Ticha, J.; Tichy, M.; Kocer, M.; Honkova, M. (The Meteoritical Society, 2009-01-01)
      Near-Earth object (NEO) research plays an increasingly important role not only in solar system science but also in protecting our planetary environment as well as human society from the asteroid and comet hazard. Consequently, interest in detecting, tracking, cataloguing, and the physical characterizing of these bodies has steadily grown. The discovery rate of current NEO surveys reflects progressive improvement in a number of technical areas. An integral part of NEO discovery is astrometric follow-up crucial for precise orbit computation and for the reasonable judging of future close encounters with the Earth, including possible impact solutions. The KLENOT Project of the Klet Observatory (South Bohemia, Czech Republic) is aimed especially at the confirmation, early follow-up, long-arc follow-up, and recovery of near-Earth objects. It ranks among the worlds most prolific professional NEO follow-up programs. The 1.06 m KLENOT telescope, put into regular operation in 2002, is the largest telescope in Europe used exclusively for observations of minor planets and comets, and full observing time is dedicated to the KLENOT team. In this paper, we present the equipment, technology, software, observing strategy, and results of the KLENOT Project obtained during its first phase from March 2002 to September 2008. The results consist of thousands of precise astrometric measurements of NEOs and also three newly discovered near-Earth asteroids. Finally, we also discuss future plans reflecting also the role of astrometric follow-up in connection with the modus operandi of the next generation surveys.
    • OpenOrb: Open-source asteroid orbit computation software including statistical ranging

      Granvik, M.; Virtanen, J.; Oszkiewicz, D.; Muinonen, K. (The Meteoritical Society, 2009-01-01)
      We are making an open-source asteroid orbit computation software package called OpenOrb publicly available. OpenOrb is built on a well-established Bayesian inversion theory, which means that it is to a large part complementary to orbit-computation packages currently available. In particular, OpenOrb is the first package that contains tools for rigorously estimating the uncertainties resulting from the inverse problem of computing orbital elements using scarce astrometry. In addition to the well-known least-squares method, OpenOrb also contains both Monte-Carlo (MC) and Markov-Chain MC (MCMC; Oszkiewicz et al. [2009]) versions of the statistical ranging method. Ranging allows the user to obtain sampled, non-Gaussian orbital-element probability-density functions and is therefore optimized for cases where the amount of astrometry is scarce or spans a relatively short time interval. Ranging-based methods have successfully been applied to a variety of different problems such as rigorous ephemeris prediction, orbital element distribution studies for transneptunian objects, the computation of invariant collision probabilities between near-Earth objects and the Earth, detection of linkages between astrometric asteroid observations within an apparition as well as between apparitions, and in the rigorous analysis of the impact of orbital arc length and/or astrometric uncertainty on the uncertainty of the resulting orbits. Tools for making ephemeris predictions and for classifying objects based on their orbits are also available in OpenOrb. As an example, we use OpenOrb in the search for candidate retrograde and/or high-inclination objects similar to 2008 KV42 in the known population of transneptunian objects that have an observational time span shorter than 30 days.