Data Rock

26 May 2013

In modern astronomy, large catalogs of data are vital to our understanding of the universe. But just what does it take to create these large catalogs? Scott Manley has a great video of one example, discovering and cataloging the asteroids in our solar system. It tracks asteroid discoveries from 1980 to the present.

We now have almost 600,000 asteroids in the catalog which includes not only their location, but also the size and shape of their orbits. If you want to track which asteroids might hit Earth, this is the catalog you need. If you want to mine asteroids for rare Earth metals, this catalog will come in handy.

As you can see, this is a decades old and on-going effort. It draws upon amateurs and professionals, ground-based and space-based observations. This is what modern astronomy looks like. It’s only by working together that such large catalogs are possible.