Portland News

ADAM Plays Instrumental Role in Discover 104 New Asteroids

More than a hundred asteroids discovered thanks to algorithm

Science is an ever-evolving field with many breakthroughs engineered toward the betterment of humanity and exploring other fields. For example, scientists have recently developed a tool to discover more than a hundred asteroids. The discovery was made following a complex computing method called an algorithm. It was used to search for previously undiscoverable asteroids due to existing telescopes and image examination tools’ inability to recognize them.

Traditionally, the American space agency NASA relied on powerful ground-based telescopes alongside NEOWISE spacecraft to identify asteroids and other objects orbiting near Earth. They also utilized tracking systems to follow asteroid movement.

Scientists emphasize the importance of identifying and tracking near-Earth objects as they could potentially threaten the planet. As a result, NASA launched a spacecraft in November last year to set up a possible defensive method as a countermeasure to asteroids that could potentially harm the planet.

One hundred four new asteroids were recently discovered, as announced by the non-profit Asteroid Institute. The organization hopes that the tool used to find these asteroids will be beneficial and play a role in discovering many more in the coming years.

The Asteroid Institute is part of the B612 Foundation and aims to combine computer science, instrumentation, and astronomy to find and track asteroids. Ed Lu, the director of the B612 Foundation, is also a former NASA astronaut, and he had nothing but positive words to describe the new tool following the organization’s latest finding.

“Discovering and tracking asteroids is crucial to understanding our solar system, enabling development of space and protecting our planet from asteroid impacts,” said the B612 Foundation director.

The institute christened the tool as ADAM, which is short for Asteroid Discovery Analysis and Mapping. The system utilizes the algorithm to “link points of life in different sky images that are consistent with asteroid orbits.” ADAM is trained to find asteroids based on existing data and calculate their orbits enough to be recognized by international astronomy organizations.

Lu said the combined effort of the tool and the algorithm make it possible for “any telescope with an archive” to become an asteroid search telescope. In addition, the Asteroid Institute has collaborated with Google on the project as the cloud-computing system supported the computational power needed for its system.

“We always dreamed of cloud computing becoming a true tool of science,” said Scott Penberthy, Director of Applied AI at Google. “The announcement of today’s and future asteroid discoveries show that this dream is becoming a reality.”

Opinions expressed by Portland News contributors are their own.