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BeltRider asteroid probe

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BeltRider is a permanent space probe used to calalogue and investigate all the asteroids in the belt. The probe is inserted into what is essentially a geo-stationary orbit around the sun, and orbits in the opposite direction of the asteroids. So effectively the probe will be stationary as the asteroids pass it by. As each asteroid passes, a thorough investigation is made by the probe's instruments. As the asteroids are generally hundreds or thousands of kilometers apart , only a small amount of fuel will be required to avoid the odd head on collision.
simonj, Jun 28 2010


       The rotational period of the sun is about 25 days...which would be a pretty fast orbit! so maybe I worded this wrongly.... What I meant was the probe would be stationary in relation to the asteroids approaching from the opposite direction
simonj, Jun 29 2010

       It will never happen. Liability issues. Asteroid orbits are a chaotic system, subject to "butterfly" perturbations. If, some day, an asteroid hits the earth, killing everyone, who's to say this probe wasn't responsible?
mouseposture, Jun 29 2010

       if you like...
simonj, Jun 29 2010

       I like it, but what little I know about the asteroid belt, combined with the moderate amount I know about space, tells me that the asteroids will probably be spread over too large an area for one probe to catalogue many of them.
DIYMatt, Jun 29 2010

       //geo-stationary// retrograde ?
FlyingToaster, Jun 29 2010

       //orbits in the opposite direction of the asteroids//   

       That part of the orbital description makes sense by itself, all the rest is gibberish. But a probe in reverse orbit is very hard to make happen, and damn-near useless for observational purposes, as the asteroids will be hurtling by at something in the vague order of 40 miles per second.   

       And whatever orbital else may have been intended in the description is almost as bad.   

       A permanent probe in the asteroid belt is probably gonna happen, someday, and will probably be launched in an orbit that is elliptical within the bounds of the "belt" area, and going in the same direction as the asteroids and the rest of the planets. After a few years, it will have drifted fairly slowly past everything out there, and collected as much data as can be got by one probe.
baconbrain, Jun 29 2010

       The most effective would be an ellpitical solar orbit with the width inside the asteroid belt and off the ecliptic to the point that at the long end it is above or below the belt and moving slightly faster. With the correct oribtal parameters, the long end would sweep forward or backward over time. Put multiple satellites in the same orbit and you've got a relatively continuous observation over time.
MechE, Jun 29 2010

       The other alternative is to park a probe on one of the sun/mars Lagrange points (on one of the trojans, maybe) which will sweep ahead on the asteroid belt over time.
MechE, Jun 29 2010


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