Over 100,000 asteroids and their colors, as seen by a single remarkable survey telescope.
This animation shows the orbital motions of over 100,000 of the asteroids observed by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), with colors illustrating the compositional diversity measured by the SDSS five-color camera. The relative sizes of each asteroid are also illustrated.
All main-belt asteroids and Trojan asteroids with orbits known to high precision are shown. The animation is rendered with a timestep of 3 days.
The compositional gradient of the asteroid belt is clearly visible, with green Vesta-family members in the inner belt fading through the blue C-class asteroids in the outer belt, and the deep red Trojan swarms beyond that.
Occasional diagonal slashes that appear in the animation are the SDSS survey beams; these appear because the animation is rendered at near the survey epoch.
The average orbital distances of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and Jupiter are illustrated with rings.
Colors represented with the same scheme as Parker et al. (2008):
Concept and rendering by Alex H. Parker: alexharrisonparker.com/