By Tal Achituv and Charles Steinhardt

This puzzle is a replica of the original Asteroids game released by Atari in 1979 with three modifications:

  1. Only 1-player mode is enabled
  2. Instead of the 2nd player’s score, a counter of asteroids destroyed appears in the top-right.
  3. Asteroids usually have standard scoring (20 points for big asteroids, 50 for medium, 100 for small), but some asteroids are given special scores that are distinctly different from normal scoring (in the thousands and hundreds of thousands).

The asteroids that get special scoring are chosen by their number in the order in which asteroids are destroyed, such that regardless of which asteroid is hit 6th, it will have a special score. The special score is the same, regardless of asteroid size.

The special scores are ID numbers for asteroids in the JPL Small-Body Database (example). The difference between specially-scored asteroids is the index into that asteroid name.

Letters appear at the bottom of the screen as the game progresses, spelling ORDER BY SEMIMAJOR AXIS. Ordering the asteroids for a full game by the semi-major axes of their orbits produces ANSWER LASER BEAM.

Asteroid Name Asteroid Number Semimajor Axis (AU) Index Letter
Akhenaten 326290 0.879 6 A
Munroe 4942 2.201 3 N
Torvalds 9793 2.255 8 S
Linshuhow 316020 2.279 9 W
Simon-Garfunkel 91287 2.289 13 E
Braille 9969 2.341 2 R
Stallman 9882 2.393 4 L
Lillianchin 28557 2.401 6 A
Jonstewart 116939 2.407 4 S
James Bond 9007 2.473 4 E
Arthurdent 18610 2.548 2 R
Hammurabi 7207 2.577 8 B
Kenreimonin 5242 2.801 2 E
Steinhardt 201751 2.805 7 A
Morganfreeman 224693 3.078 1 M