Section 1: Instructing a Telescope to Collect Data 


Part 1A: Introduction

There are many asteroids in our solar system, and we want to understand them. We need to know where they are now, where they are going to be in the future, and the speed they are moving along the way. With this information, we can calculate the likelihood that an asteroid and Earth will be at the same place at the same time. It is not only important, but it is challenging and fun.

Even though we don’t see most asteroids, they don’t sneak up on us. Their orbits are predictable, and, with enough observations, we can even learn what they are made of. Knowing what they are made of tells us a lot about how they will behave if they ever encounter Earth. Will they break up in the atmosphere or streak through the sky before exploding on impact?

There is a lot to learn about the more than 1.2 million known asteroids. We want everyone to be able to participate. Innovators Developing Accessible Tools for Astronomy (IDATA) was a project to make astronomy software more accessible for people who are blind or have low vision. The software you will use in this Exploration, IDATA, is a result of the work done. This online software allows everyone to gather data about asteroids and create light curves regardless of vision. Afterglow Access, the name of the software developed, is continually being improved. This Exploration is for both sighted and/or blind and low vision students. Afterglow Access is an integral part of the Exploration.

This first section, consisting of Parts A – K, introduces you to the use of a computing program language, Quorum, and how it is used to control robotic telescopes in different parts of the world.

By the end of the section you will learn how to make image requests from a robotic system of telescopes – Skynet. Presently, if you do not have an account on Skynet, the image processing software, Afterglow Access, will allow you to use the sample images provided, or you can upload your own images.