Impact Monitoring information now computed by NEOCC

20 November 2020

Since the first release of ESA's NEO Coordination Centre web portal in 2012 we have been providing accurate estimates of the trajectories of near-Earth asteroids and the threat that they pose to Earth through the computations performed by the University of Pisa's NEODyS system. At that time, ESA had reached an agreement with that university and its spin-off company SpaceDyS to federate their orbit determination and impact monitoring services within ESA's newly created NEO segment web portal. Since then, ESA has been providing the results from NEODyS computations in the NEOCC web portal.

In the last years, ESA has awarded dedicated contracts to SpaceDyS to perform the improvement and migration of the NEODyS software to ESA. Whereas the orbit determination part of this suite was already migrated and put in operations in the first quarter of 2019, the remaining impact monitoring part has only been recently migrated. Consequently, and since today, data presented in our portal are the result of the full orbit determination and impact monitoring computations being performed at our premises and with the so called AstOD software, i.e. an improved version of the original software.

As a consequence of the software upgrade and improvements, the results provided in our portal might be slightly different compared to the ones provided by NEODyS. This is due, mainly, to: the fully new orbit propagator, which is the core of the software, the improved differential corrector, the advanced computation of the score value, which possibly triggers the impact monitoring computation of a given NEA, and the possibility to increase the number of sampling points in the line of variations (see this reference). Moreover, different results have to be expected for impact probabilities below the completeness limit (see this other reference). You can consult our risk list here.

We are grateful to the work done by NEODyS and SpaceDyS scientists and particularly to the vision and outstanding contribution of Prof. Andrea Milani and Dr. Giovanni Valsecchi that have allowed reaching the present outcome.