Astrometric data in Project Pluto tools

Several tools on this site, both on-line and off-line, take astrometric observational data as input. The tools that do so are:

Satellite identification (given observations of one or more moving objects, this will tell you if any have positions and motions matching known artificial satellites.)

Asteroid identification (similar to the above, but checks to see if your objects match known minor planets.)

Find_Orb (determines orbits of objects given your observations of them).

GNSS (navigation satellite) astrometry checker. Given some observations of navigation satellites, this can tell you how close your timing was to "reality".

Astrometric formats accepted by these tools

At present, astcheck (asteroid identification tool) accepts only the data in the Minor Planet Center's 80-column format, with no extensions. I hope to remove this qualifier soon, so that the following paragraphs will describe all tools.

All of the other tools can read data in the Minor Planet Center's 80-column format, which has been the standard format for reporting observations for decades. They will also accept astrometry in the new ADES format, in either XML or PSV format.

Find_Orb can also read in observations in the AstDyS .rwo format, also used by OrbFit. It is unlikely that I'll modify other tools to accept .rwo data.

These tools are rather flexible about what they will take as input. For example, you can cut-and-paste or upload a mix of XML and PSV ADES, plus "traditional" punched-card data, and the programs will figure it out. This can be useful when you have lots of old (pre-ADES) data for an object in punched-card format, have just reduced observations using Astrometrica (which produces PSV data), but also have some astrometry from somebody else in ADES format. Put it all together in one file, and Find_Orb and the other tools will read it correctly. Note that it's unlikely that MPC's tools or those of others will be that flexible; send in "malformed" astrometry to MPC, and it will be rejected.

For some years, the need to fit everything onto a IBM punched card has been quite limiting. I have added format extensions for more precise and non-standard dates/times and RA/decs. These tools will correctly parse extended-format observations. As before, be warned that almost nobody else (including MPC) will.