Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Friday, March 23, 2007

  3:1 Orbital resonance with jupiter

It took a very long time for humanity to realize that the sun was the center of the solar system, not Earth, and still, even then, it's hard for most people to visualize ellipses - and even harder to visualize the effects of other objects in the solar system on each other. I look for visualizations of how orbits and various slingshots really work all the time - things like the Interplanetary superhighway are hard to explain: "What? you mean the best way to get from point A to point B is not a straight line?"

This animated image is of the 3:1 resonance that the asteroid Toutatis is in with Jupiter, but in a rotating reference frame from a Jovian perspective. (Basically: having the sun be the center of the solar system and holding the relation to Jupiter as steady as possible) Note how the varying pull of Jupiter shifts Toutatis near to Earth's orbit on 4:1 resonance. Basically every four years, hundreds of asteroids like Toutatis make a close approach to earth.

I'm going to make my usual point here, but I'm tired of rewriting it. There are multiple points on a NEO's orbit that make it easier to get to other places in the solar system - with the added benefit of having raw resources to mine and radiation protection for much of the trip.

I looked over Spacex's Falcon 9 plans and saw that they had only published payload numbers to LEO and GTO. I know that alt.space is intensely focused on merely making orbit - but I would love it if they/we could get our heads out of LEO and into L1 - or just, perhaps, a few more lunar diameters. There are a few interesting payloads that only need to get that far.

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Comments:
Hah. After watching this animation for more hours that I can remember - I finally came up with a name for Jupiter's gravitational resonance with Near Earth Objects - in homage to two of my favorite movies.

"Interplanetary Overthruster"

I wonder if I can get my own wikipedia entry for that....
 
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David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


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