Physics

News and events

25 Sep 2012

Phil Sutton wins grant from Royal Astronomical Society

Phil Sutton was awarded a grant by the Royal Astronomical Society to support travel and research at the Lithuanian National observatory, Moletai Astronomical Observatory. The visit lasted 10 days and saw the use of the 1.65m telescope for the search of Mars co-orbital asteroids, known as Trojan asteroids, as currently only 4 confirmed Mars Trojans exist.

Trojan asteroids are objects that share the same orbit as a larger planet or moon but are found to liberate about the L4 and L5 Lagrange points, approximately 60 degrees ahead and behind. Observations concentrated on the higher inclination windows that have shown to be stable for long periods, again narrowing down the most likely position to find any new Trojans. Current research continues to be on the investigation of Trojan objects within the Solar System and numerical modeling of Saturn’s rings.

illustration showing the 5 Lagrange points that exist in the Sun-Mars system

Figure 1 | An illustration showing the 5 Lagrange points that exist in the Sun-Mars system and the locations of the L4 and L5 points that exist 60° ahead and behind Mars. θL is the libration angle and the red line shows a representation of the area to be investigated in the orbit.