Two finalists in this year’s Intel Science Talent Search focused on methods for pinpointing the locations of asteroids

…the high school students came up with methods that provide useful answers much more quickly than can other computational techniques now in use.

Astronomers have identified more than 230,000 asteroids in orbit around the sun, and the number is increasing daily. Some of these objects are on courses that could lead to a collision with Earth. If the asteroid is sufficiently large, the results could be catastrophic

Andrei Munteanu of Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, D.C., developed a new method for computing the minimum distance between two bodies following elliptical orbits with a common focus.

Several years ago at an astronomy summer camp, Munteanu learned how to calculate the orbit of an asteroid and…

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