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2002 AA29 Animations

All animations are provided as animated GIFs and should run within your web browser. Animations created by Paul Chodas and Ron Baalke.

Asteroid 2002 AA29's Orbit
Heliocentric View


This animation shows the location of asteroid 2002 AA29 during the years 2000 through 2005, as it orbits the Sun just ahead of the Earth and matches our planet's speed almost precisely. The asteroid's orbit is traced in blue, while the Earth's orbit is shown in white. During the animation, our point of view lowers down to show how the asteroid's orbit is tilted relative to the Earth's. The tilt causes the asteroid to move above and below the Earth's orbital plane in a yearly cycle.

Oblique View of Asteroid's Motion
Rotating Sun-Earth Reference Frame


Like a cameraman hanging off a rotating merry-go-round and filming a person walking on the platform, our view in this animation remains fixed on the Earth as it and the roving asteroid go around the Sun. This view makes the Earth appear fixed and shows just the motion of the asteroid relative to our planet. The animation begins in 1903, with asteroid 2002 AA29 on the trailing side of the Earth. In this oblique view, the asteroid bobs up and down in a yearly cycle because of its orbital tilt.

For the first few years after 1903, AA29 loops towards the Earth, but then reverses direction and traces a path all the way around the Earth's orbit until it reaches its current position on the leading side of our planet. On January 8, 2003, the asteroid will approach the Earth to about 15 times the distance of the Moon, then reverse its direction once again, and head back to our planet's trailing side.

Overhead View of Asteroid's Motion
Rotating Sun-Earth Reference Frame


In this animation, we look down on the Solar System and rotate our view with the Earth as it goes around the Sun, much like a cameraman filming from the roof of a rotating merry-go-round. This makes the Earth appear to be fixed, allowing us to see just the motion of the asteroid relative to our planet. The animation begins in 1903, when 2002 AA29 was on the trailing side of Earth. The asteroid traces small loops because of variations in both its orbital speed and that of the Earth.

For the first few years after 1903, the asteroid loops towards our planet, but then it reverses due primarily to gravitational interaction with the Earth. It then begins a 95-year trek all the way around the Earth's orbit to our planet's leading side, where it will make a close approach on January 8, 2003, and reverse itself once again. Never passing through the gap near the Earth, the asteroid traces out a horseshoe pattern.

Pseudo-Satellite Motion of Asteroid 2002 AA29

This animation shows two views of the predicted motion of asteroid 2002 AA29 when it becomes a quasi-satellite of the Earth 600 years from now. On the left, we can see how both the asteroid and the Earth follow similar orbits about the Sun. When we keep the Earth fixed with the Sun always to the left, as on the right, the asteroid appears to follow a closed loop around our planet. It cannot be considered a true satellite of the Earth during this time because the asteroid will be too distant for the Earth's gravity to exceed the Sun's control over the body's motion.

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