Orbit Determination of 2002 KM6

Authors: Hyunjin Christina Lee, Catherine Lu, Carter Moyer

The premise of this research is to determine the orbit of the asteroid 99795 2002 KM6 and predict its trajectory far in the future. Asteroids’ orbits model ellipses and can thus be described by six orbital elements: the semi-major axis, eccentricity, inclination, longitude of the ascending node, argument of perihelion, and the mean anomaly. Using Python, our team programmed a series of orbital determination codes, implementing the Method of Gauss to generate the orbital elements with a reasonable level of error. This required gathering data over at least three observations. We then compared these elements to those generated by JPL Horizons to ensure they were reasonable. Our team used the numerical integration program Swift to determine long-term orbital patterns over the next 50 million years. Simulations of 60 different clones of 2002 KM6, randomly sampled from a Gaussian distribution, revealed that the majority of asteroid particles will either get too far or too close to the Sun after 50 million years. A small percentage of them, however, will maintain a stable orbit.

Comments: 17 pages, research done at the Sommers-Bausch Observatory

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[v1] 2019-12-30 08:20:53

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