Thursday, August 19, 2010

Prospector's Skymap

There have been over 535,000 asteroids discovered to date and they're all different. Some 7,121 of them are known to cross the orbit of the Earth and so are referred to as the near-Earth asteroids. If you're interested in flying a robotic mission to an asteroid, you need some idea of how much delta-v your spacecraft is going to need. I've written on this before. However, if you're interested in flying humans to an asteroid, you also need to know how long the round trip is likely to be.

To answer this, one needs to know both how far away the asteroid is at closest approach to Earth, and for how many days it will remain that close. To the interested public, finding this information out using the available NASA tools is a slow process, and understanding what you've discovered is difficult without good visualization.

click for interactive skymap

Introducing the Prospector's Skymap, a tool for visualizing Earth-centric plots of asteroid trajectories over the next 20 years, in 3d. Included is ~500 asteroids that have low delta-v rendezvous. The blue part of the trajectory is "within range" of an average human mission duration of 6 months, which can be configured by setting the maximum lunar distance in the range box. See the online help.

In addition to visualization I've been doing some offline data processing. Probably the most interesting result is a list of targets that have low delta-v rendezvous requirements, close approach within 20 lunar distances, sorted by year, for the next 20 years. Here's the csv file.


* under 20 LD
AsteroidClose approachDistance (LD)#days*
(2009 SH2)2010 SEP 307.12333537
(2005 UN)2010 OCT 2411.01831426
(2006 JY26)2010 NOV 0414.30419131
(2010 JW34)2010 NOV 2119.35112616
(2008 KT)2010 NOV 235.56063661
(2009 BS5)2011 JAN 113.39771261
(2009 UK20)2011 MAY 028.56922830
(2009 BD)2011 JUN 020.900437127
(2007 RQ17)2011 JUL 2213.23054356
(2007 DD)2011 JUL 239.29576344
(2009 TM8)2011 OCT 171.10182922
(2009 WN6)2011 NOV 056.32427124
(2008 UR)2011 NOV 1317.55155519
(2008 EL68)2012 JAN 058.29607746
(2008 EJ85)2012 MAR 069.22909625
(2010 FR9)2012 MAR 2218.4059868
(2001 CQ36)2012 MAY 3010.00337228
(2009 BW2)2012 AUG 0913.12194325
(2010 JK1)2012 NOV 259.30796028
(2008 ON10)2013 AUG 1619.01999813
(2007 CN26)2013 AUG 2811.86088421
(2008 PW4)2013 AUG 3013.84872319
(2005 TG50)2013 NOV 1215.92644738
(2001 AV43)2013 NOV 182.889049103
(2004 FJ31)2014 APR 1011.56957118
(2007 HB15)2014 APR 287.40614228
(2010 KV7)2014 AUG 1517.87178217
(2006 WZ184)2014 NOV 0919.8203364
(2010 GH7)2015 MAR 207.38268635
(2006 HX30)2015 MAY 1611.01162832
(2007 BB)2016 JAN 1611.16409139
(1994 UG)2016 MAR 2517.27587312
(2008 HU4)2016 APR 164.882098136
(2009 DL46)2016 MAY 245.95465826
(2005 OH3)2016 AUG 046.46712048
(2007 RU19)2016 AUG 1113.42974322
(2004 KG17)2017 MAY 1610.74741430
(2006 SR131)2017 SEP 2712.11301815
(2001 WH49)2017 OCT 2615.11413823
(2006 XY)2017 DEC 206.14696635
(2008 WM61)2017 DEC 023.59290338
(1991 VG)2018 FEB 1118.36795347
(2010 AG3)2018 MAR 0415.75370025
(1999 FN19)2018 MAY 079.64622628
(2008 HS3)2019 MAY 1014.44907123
(2001 KW18)2019 MAY 2117.54578318
(2006 QV89)2019 SEP 2114.49611228
(2008 UD95)2019 OCT 0816.75618826
(2008 EA9)2019 NOV 2311.24244671
(2007 UN12)2020 JUL 0416.82181637
(2009 OS5)2020 JUL 1417.84387832
(2001 GP2)2020 OCT 033.12459267
(2008 TY9)2020 OCT 1017.51670915
(2007 TA23)2020 OCT 1216.49788921
(2008 GM2)2020 OCT 2515.82038030
(2005 AZ28)2020 NOV 1013.80427926
(1993 BX3)2021 JAN 1718.42055419
(2004 RW2)2021 SEP 0515.73470515
(1982 DB)2021 DEC 1110.23523523
(2009 BF58)2022 JAN 256.08112523
(2008 JP24)2022 JAN 2619.2299329
(2007 UY1)2022 FEB 0813.88990819
(2009 FX4)2022 AUG 059.98926435
(2003 YS70)2022 DEC 1310.01710938
(2004 XD51)2022 DEC 2711.59694325
(2006 EW)2023 FEB 1214.57483420
(2004 OW10)2023 MAR 2512.79139124
(2009 QR)2023 AUG 212.68601633
(2001 QQ142)2023 DEC 0614.37718919
(2005 FG)2024 APR 0715.85655919
(2009 FK)2024 MAY 2117.90962013
(1998 KY26)2024 JUN 0111.98590627
(2005 ND63)2024 JUL 1414.22454014
(2002 NV16)2024 OCT 2411.75661158
(2006 HU50)2025 MAY 029.26089223
(2008 ST)2025 MAY 2014.25303651
(2008 DG5)2025 JUN 069.08584125
(2008 CM74)2025 JUN 254.86452343
(1999 SF10)2025 DEC 187.27896964
(1999 AO10)2026 FEB 1310.43336156
(2000 SZ162)2026 OCT 1614.38559324
(2006 SF281)2026 OCT 186.03932842
(2009 SH1)2026 SEP 1710.78361319
(2009 HC)2027 APR 106.02300480
(2008 VC)2027 NOV 025.11435633
(2004 AD)2028 JAN 0618.2709469
(2005 ER95)2028 MAR 2313.02533046
(2009 FQ32)2028 MAR 313.80321238
(2009 WC106)2028 MAY 0216.25007621
(2000 SG344)2028 MAY 077.636435212
(2009 WR52)2028 MAY 202.46465131
(2006 RH120)2028 AUG 0811.213795188
(2008 EY84)2028 SEP 0911.88311431
(2007 DC)2028 NOV 055.71717550
(2006 SU49)2029 JAN 283.18766637
(2006 UQ216)2029 FEB 1913.49571745
(2009 CV)2029 MAR 038.61242277
(2007 WA)2029 MAY 136.03633634
(2000 SL10)2029 MAY 166.76024021
(2010 NN)2029 JUN 1412.25846121
(2009 DC12)2029 JUL 0618.68069815
(2008 TN9)2029 SEP 2918.17875710
(2006 HE2)2029 SEP 302.02912734
(2008 UA202)2029 OCT 205.29932660

From this data you can determine which target is most favorable in any given year. If you're after really low delta-v requirements, as well as short transit times, then the list gets smaller.


AsteroidClose approachDistance (LD)#days*delta-v
(2010 JW34)2010 NOV 2119.351126164.839129
(2008 KT)2010 NOV 235.560636615.800001
(2009 BD)2011 JUN 020.9004371274.793479
(2005 TG50)2013 NOV 1215.926447386.153250
(2008 HU4)2016 APR 164.8820981364.577387
(1991 VG)2018 FEB 1118.367953475.238135
(2008 EA9)2019 NOV 2311.242446715.392948
(2007 UN12)2020 JUL 0416.821816376.080512
(2009 OS5)2020 JUL 1417.843878325.764455
(2001 GP2)2020 OCT 033.124592675.595356
(2008 ST)2025 MAY 2014.253036515.637181
(1999 AO10)2026 FEB 1310.433361565.858708
(2005 ER95)2028 MAR 2313.025330465.814350
(2000 SG344)2028 MAY 077.6364352125.197308
(2006 RH120)2028 AUG 0811.2137951883.385696
(2006 UQ216)2029 FEB 1913.495717456.081869
(2008 UA202)2029 OCT 205.299326605.953219

And the list of known near-Earth asteroids keeps growing.

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