A Treatise on Orbital Elements

Today during our afternoon lecture, we discussed the derivations of various orbital
elements using only position and velocity vectors, and how we will utilise them in our Orbital
Determination code. This being of great importance to our final report, almost everyone was
wide awake the entire 3 hours, even after going to bed late yesterday. It was a great
recognition of the lengths the average SSPer will go to show their prowess as a student.

What am I saying! It’s the Fourth of July after all!

Generic stock image of fireworks

Yeah, not that kind of celebration. Fireworks are unfortunately banned in Colorado so
we had to resort to less exciting, but still fun, activities. Even though we still had a full
lecture load today, it was spiced up a little bit – for example, during our morning lecture Dr.
Dubson gave a little demonstration of angular momentum using a tire and a rotating platform.
Visual learners rejoice!

Sasha demonstrating the awesome power of a tire

Even with having both lectures today, it wasn’t so bad with breaks and funny
moments. With it being the 4th and all, the C4C (dining hall) was closed for breakfast and
dinner. There were breakfast makings (read: cereal) in the kitchen for breakfast, but I think
most people didn’t wake up until past 8:30 so they didn’t have a lot of time to eat. Definitely
a few sleepy faces in the morning lecture. The aforementioned afternoon lecture was mostly a
discussion of orbital elements we will need to make for our OD code like eccentricity,
semi-major axis, and the dreaded argument of perihelion.

For dinner, we had huge pizzas ordered from Cosmo’s in Boulder- over 10 large ones
in all. Along with soda and boxes of sugar cookies, it did feel a little special. To round out the
evening, we made a huge bunch of water balloons and had a big fight out on the soccer field.
With the size of the teams it ended up in a big stalemate after the balloons ran out, so we
resorted to tag, sharks and minnows, and infection (appropriately) until about 7:30.

For any other program this might be the end of the day but with PSET #5 coming out
today it was back to the computer lab. Even with the work there definitely is a strong sense of
community when working, especially with the emphasis on collaboration promoted by SSP.
There are always people and TAs, and other students ready to help so despite their being a lot
of work, it doesn’t feel unmanageable. I’m looking forward to the rest of the week, with a
pool party on Wednesday, guest speaker on Tuesday, a movie trip on Sunday, and Open
House Saturday.

And AP test scores tomorrow.


Hi, my name’s Will and I’m a rising senior at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in Maryland.
My favourite hobbies include reading, good conversation, games of all kinds, and playing
piano. As a rising senior with college applications coming, summer research, and SSP I
definitely have a lot going on but I feel excited for the future, whatever it holds.