A moon or natural satellite is a celestial body that orbits a planetary body such as a planet, dwarf planet, or an asteroid.
Scientists seek understanding the origin and evolution of our solar system by studying moons of these bodies.
Additionally, searches for satellites of planetary bodies can be important to protect the safety of a spacecraft as it
approaches or orbits a planetary body. If a satellite of a celestial body is found, the mass of that body can also be
calculated once its orbit is determined. Ensuring the Dawn spacecraft's safety on its mission to the asteroid (4) Vesta
primarily motivated the work of Dawn's Satellite Working Group (SWG) in summer of 2011. Dawn mission scientists
and engineers utilized various computational tools and techniques for Vesta's satellite search. The objectives of this
paper are to 1) introduce the natural satellite search problem, 2) present the computational challenges, approaches, and
tools used when addressing this problem, and 3) describe applications of various image processing and computational
algorithms for performing satellite searches to the electronic imaging and computer science community. Furthermore,
we hope that this communication would enable Dawn mission scientists to improve their satellite search algorithms and
tools and be better prepared for performing the same investigation in 2015, when the spacecraft is scheduled to approach
and orbit the dwarf planet (1) Ceres.