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The Minor Planet Observer
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2007 Shoemaker Grant Recipient

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MPO LCInvert

General Features

  • Import data from MPO Canopus, UAPC/SAPC, or "Kaasalainen-formatted" files.

  • Display and animate 3-D models of one or more asteroids at the same time.

  • Compare original lightcurve against one generated by the model.

Open Source License

Please note that MPO LCInvert is intended for advanced researchers who are able to work pretty much on their own after getting through the initial installation.

Detailed advice on modeling cannot be made available since the process is so complex.

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Buy MPO LCInvert


"It's perfect! I put lightcurves of 107 Camilla (converted from from UAPC) to LCInvert and now I relax while watching the final shape rotating in the '4 vane'. I'm sure people will love this."
– Josef Durech, Developer of the C source code core libraries.

About MPO LCInvert

The LCInvert is a Windows-based program that uses the Delphi adaptation of the Core Inversion Library to generate the files required to display 3-D asteroid models and then presents those models. The models can be displayed in one of two windows: Model View, which allows "orbiting" the asteroid as well as displaying it in asteroid-equatorial or ecliptic modes, and 4-Vane, which displays the asteroid from four different view points simultaneously. The views within the 4-Vane are fixed.

Some of the inversion methods are very CPU intensive and so can take some time to run. During some of the processing, despite frequent calls to allow Windows to process messages, the LCInvert program can take control of a large amount of CPU time and so make other programs run slow.

Open GL Rendering

The 3-D presentation and animation is provided by components that use OpenGL. The program has been tested on numerous machines and, providing the video card drivers have been updated to use OpenGL properly, MPO LCInvert should run with no difficulties.

Getting Starting Manual

The MPO LCInvert manual includes a brief primer on shape and spin axis modeling as well as references to important reading material. There are six tutorials that guide you through using the sample data so that you can learn the basics of importing data from MPO Canopus, "Kaasalainen format", and UAPC/SAPC data files.

The Inversion Wizard takes you step-by-step through the inversion process, from importing data to generating the final 3-D model information.

For Advanced Users Only

MPO LCInvert is not for everyone. 

It is very important to emphasize that lightcurve inversion is not a simple, straightforward process and is fraught with many more pitfalls than might ever be encountered when finding the period of a lightcurve. It is very easy to reach false conclusions.

It is strongly suggested that you read the critical references listed in the documentation and have a good understanding of the overall process. It is not expected that you be able to understand the underlying algorithms or math in detail.

To answer the most common question right off: You cannot get the shape or spin axis of a main-belt asteroid from data obtained during a single apparition. It just cannot be done. An NEO that goes through a significant change in phase angle and viewing aspect during a single apparition might be an exception, but only if there is sufficient data covering a large range of phase angles and assuming that the asteroid is not being viewed nearly pole-on.

When doing lightcurve inversions, it is highly recommended that you contact those in the literature that have done it successfully and get their feedback before publishing any work.

Limited Technical Support

Technical support is limited to installation and basic getting started. Beyond that, it is up to the user to become familiar with modeling via core reference papers and additional reading.

The source code is considered its own documentation and support. It is the solely the user's responsibility to understand and interpret the code.

Limited Technical Support

Download the MPO LCInvert manual (PDF) to review the basics of shape and spin axis modeling as well the six tutorials for LCInvert that get you started.

Right-click on the link and select "Save Target As" from the pop-up menu.


DVD – $100. Includes C and Borland Delphi source code of core libraries. Source code of the LCInvert engine and 3-D rendering is not available.

Price includes non-refundable shipping/handling fee for orders to North America. Orders are sent Priority (U.S.) or First Class (North America). Add $10 per order (non-refundable) for Air Mail elsewhere. (1 pound limit. Additional charges may apply for heavier shipments).

Buy MPO LCInvert


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This page was last updated on 01/19/11 16:01 -0700.
All contents copyright (c) 2005-2011, Brian D. Warner
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