Interim Report

Team Number: 020
School Name: Bloomfield High School
Area of Science: Astrophysics
Project Title: Cosmic Collisions
Project Abstract: http://mode.lanl.k12.nm.us/97.98/abstracts/020.html
Interim Report: http://mode.lanl.k12.nm.us/97.98/interims/020.html
Final Report: http://mode.lanl.k12.nm.us/97.98/finalreports/020/finalreport.html

The Bloomfield High School Cosmic Collisions group is endeavoring to calculate the degree of change on the orbit of earth's moon when an asteroid, comety, etc. collides with it in space. Through research and thought, we have tried to identify all the factors involved in determinming the result of an object impacting the moon's surface. These factors consist of angles, and location of impact, masses of the moon, and mass, density, composition, and velocity of the impacting object. THen trying to calculate the changes in orbit, if any. These are indispensable factors that can contribute to the force and intensity of the impact.

The moon is Earth's natural satellite. The moon is 3,480 km in diameter which is about one-fourth the diameter of the earth. The surface of the moon is almost completely covered with craters ranging in size from very tiny to extremely large. These craters were formed by numerous bombardments from meteorites, asteroids, and comets in the years when such fragments were widely found. The largest of these craters is called Bailly and is about 295 km wide and 3,690 m deep. Our team believes that for orbital change to occur the impacting object would have to cause a larger impact than that of the impact that caused Bailly.

Asteroids are defined as small or minor planets that move in elliptical orbits. They are believed to be beginnings of larger planets that were prohibited from evolving into larger planets by disruptive gravitational forces of surrounding planets. The thousands of asteroids in the solar system now are believed to have been formed by collisions between about a dozen original asteroids. Comets are defined as nebulous celestial bjodies revolving around the sun. They are characterized by an icy ball followed by a long, luminous tail.

We are on the verge of collecting statistical data and information vital to the completion of our project, along with any avaliable computer programs providing us with the necessary information to complete the task. When we are finished gathering the data, we will input it into the computer and try to accurately model the moon orbiting the earth with several asteroids of varying sizes, densities, velocites, etc. coming in contact with it. We will show the possible effects, if any, that a collision would have on the moon's orbit. We are calculating that if the impacting object has a big enough mass, a strong enough acceleration, and if it is a direct hit, then there is a strong probability that a noticeable orbit change will occur. We are basing our hypothesis on Newton's Law: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Randi Stanford and Shannon Slater are heading the research. They have been slowly, but surely, collecting data. They have visited the library several times and accesed the Internet numerous times. Brian Carter and Gina Gibson are attempting to learn to program. They are making some progress and second semester more time will be spent on this endeavor. Derek Mohler is currently learning how to use PowerPoint effectively. This will prove helpful in putting together presentations essential to the success of the group.

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New Mexico High School Supercomputing Challenge