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Minor Planet Center: recent improvement and future developments

Presentation #504.05 in the session Seek and Find (Asteroids).

Published onOct 20, 2022
Minor Planet Center: recent improvement and future developments

The Minor Planet Center (MPC) is a NASA funded project that operates at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and is the single worldwide location for receipt and distribution of positional measurements of minor planets, comets and outer irregular natural satellites of the major planets (

Currently, the observed data, orbital elements, and MPC-generated products are publicly available through a variety of web-posted files and tools and through a live exported database that is populated as part of the processing of each submission. In order to speed processing to increase capacity for future planned surveys, the MPC is switching to a relational database processing system.

During recent months, the Minor Planet Center has undergone numerous improvements that we would like to present. Those include, but are not limited to:

  • Moving to the use of the OrbFit software for the computation of all the orbits;

  • Making the observation database table (more than 300 million observations) available through the NASA Planetary Data System’s Small Bodies Nodes;

  • Increasing the automation of our daily and monthly processes;

  • Increasing the validation of our products, such as observations and orbits.

We would also like to focus attention on the efforts we are making to get ready for the enormous increase of data that we are expecting in the forthcoming years, mostly coming from VRO/LSST telescope and NEO Surveyor Mission. As part of the developments that are being carried out, the MPC is migrating its processing pipelines to use Amazon Web Services (AWS). We present the preliminary results of a test performed in collaboration with the VRO/LSST group, demonstrating our current capabilities and our future plans.

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