Planetary Defense Results from Unistellar Citizen Astronomers

Refining orbits

Since 2020, the Unistellar citizen science network refined the orbits of dozen near-Earth asteroids and build the 3D shape of one near-Earth asteroid. More than 800 astrometric positions of asteroids (precise measurements of asteroids’ positions) have been published to the Minor Planet Center thanks to our network. The International Astronomical Union’s (IAU) Minor Planet Center (MPC) is the official organization in charge of collecting and publishing near-Earth asteroid observational data. The astrometric positions we measured from your data were used to refine the asteroids’ orbits — you directly contributed to Planetary Defense!

Testimonials from Citizen Astronomers

Rachel Knight talks about her experience observing asteroid 1999 AP10 (AdaCarrera) to build its shape model:

“That was my second mission and I think we did 8 different recordings. The longest one being 6 hours, but most of them over 4 hours. I know 26 other citizen astronomers helped get many different observations about this one and 7 different countries. So, we had lots of views from across many different places over the course of 2 weeks.

It’s surprising to me how much is still available to backyard astronomy. You would think that anything you could see with a cheap enough telescope that I can afford would have been discovered by now, but there’s so many things out there, that not everything can point to everything and not all weather cooperates at the same time, so it’s very cool to be able to be, frankly, in my backyard and contributing to science.”

Rachel Knight and Brad Davis, Unistellar Citizen Astronomers from California
Rachel Knight and Brad Davis, Unistellar Citizen Astronomers from California

Planetary defense result table as of 03 September 2021

Generated by wpDataTables
  • Shaped The observation detected the near-Earth object, contributing to refine its orbit, submitted to the Minor Planet Center, and to build its 3D shape model.
  • Detected The observation detected the near-Earth object, contributing to refine its orbits, submitted to the Minor Planet Center.
  • Not detected The near-Earth object has not been detected.
  • In progress The observation of the near-Earth object has been received and is being analyzed.
  • Beta program The observation was made with an early beta program before June 2021 and helped to build the current Planetary Defense program. Some of these data have not been fully processed.