We describe the Pan-STARRS Moving Object Processing System (MOPS), a modern software package that produces automatic asteroid discoveries and identifications from catalogs of transient detections from next-generation astronomical survey telescopes. MOPS achieves >99.5% efficiency in producing orbits from a synthetic but realistic population of asteroids whose measurements were simulated for a Pan-STARRS4-class telescope. Additionally, using a nonphysical grid population, we demonstrate that MOPS can detect populations of currently unknown objects such as interstellar asteroids. MOPS has been adapted successfully to the prototype Pan-STARRS1 telescope despite differences in expected false detection rates, fill-factor loss, and relatively sparse observing cadence compared to a hypothetical Pan-STARRS4 telescope and survey. MOPS remains highly efficient at detecting objects but drops to 80% efficiency at producing orbits. This loss is primarily due to configurable MOPS processing limits that are not yet tuned for the Pan-STARRS1 mission. The core MOPS software package is the product of more than 15 person-years of software development and incorporates countless additional years of effort in third-party software to perform lower-level functions such as spatial searching or orbit determination. We describe the high-level design of MOPS and essential subcomponents, the suitability of MOPS for other survey programs, and suggest a road map for future MOPS development.
Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
- Pub Date:
- April 2013
- Astrophysics - Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- 57 Pages, 26 Figures, 13 Tables