Yes, that is the name of the very famous computer game.
In our last blog post we talked about optical navigation for lunar missions. Optical navigation is also very valuable for asteroid missions. It is being used today on OSIRIS-REx. The system we developed can be used anywhere in the solar system without, hopefully, too much attention from the ground.
Now that you’ve decided to go to an asteroid, where are they? As it turns out there is a fabulous website with a downloadable database of asteroids http://naic.edu/~nolan/astorb.html. You can download a file with thousands of asteroid.
In Version 2020.1 of the Spacecraft Control Toolbox, we’ve added a function to plot the asteroids. It reads the file and returns the orbital elements, name, number and epoch. Here are two examples of asteroids in motion.
Ceres is the most famous asteroid. You may find one named after you! If you want the bigger picture, here is a second plot with 1000 asteroids. The circles are the orbits of Earth and Jupiter. The function will propagate all the asteroids you select if you don’t request any outputs.
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