A Thesis to Determine Asteroid Surface Composition by Using Differential Photometry

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Physics and Astronomy

Date of Award

Spring 2018


Surveys are an important part of any science. In regard to asteroids, surveys can be used to gather characteristics about as many asteroids as possible and then applied to models of the solar system. The goal of the project is to examine differential photometry as a tool to expand the literature on asteroid surface composition. Specifically, this project used differential photometry on a variety of numbered asteroids to compare changes in color with results found using more precise methods. This study also produced an analysis of surface characteristics for each asteroid. The comparisons can help determine the validity of using differential photometry as a means to contribute to surveys that gather asteroid colors for modeling. The results from this study were inconclusive if differential photometry can be used as a significant tool for finding color variations in asteroids. More surface characteristic data will be needed to confirm if this method can be used reliably alongside surveys made by more precise means such as spectroscopy. However, the results were conclusive in finding color variations for a handful of asteroids.


Kent Montgomery

Subject Categories

Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Physics