NASA Asteroid Data Hunter TopCoder Challenge – World Coordinate System algorithm C# port

Posted by Marius Dornean on March 26, 2014  /   Posted in Uncategorized

As part of the NASA Asteroid Data Hunter TopCoder Challenge, we have had to deep dive into and learn a lot about astronomy.

The challenge exposes FITS (Flexible Image Transport System) data sets to the challenger. The FITS data set contains a number of World Coordinate System data points such as

  • Right Ascension
  • Declination
  • X,Y reference pixels
  • X,Y coordinate increments,
  • Rotation in degreen
  • Projection type (e.g. tan, sin, etc)
  • X,Y reference pixel coordinates , etc..

Using this information one can extrapolate RA(right ascension) and Declination of any pixel on an astronomical image. Inversely, one can map an RA/Dec value to a pixel.

Since we prefer to develop on the .NET platform we had a hard time finding any algorithms/libraries to help with this task. We ended up porting the WCSTools library, specifically for the pixel to RA/Dec algorithms, to C#/.NET

The source code can be found on our Google Code site: https://code.google.com/p/wcstools/

 

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