Podcast #128: We chat with Kent C Dodds about why he loves React and discuss what life was like in the dark days before Git. Listen now.

# Tag Info

59

The instability in orbits of our artificial satellites come from a few basic causes: Atmospheric drag and solar wind effects The Earth isn't a perfect uniform sphere but is slightly lumpy, which means its gravitational field isn't uniform Other massive objects in the solar system perturb their orbits with their gravity So let's consider them one by one. ...

52

No, because Mars can't have eclipses. Strictly speaking, Mars has only transits. The difference is that Mars's moons are smaller than the Sun as viewed from Mars, thus they don't block out the entire sun. Eclipses are defined as only occurring if the entire sun is blocked, or at least the vast majority. Phobos blocks out only about 60% of the sun at most. ...

42

Essentially, this is a result of observational bias. A natural satellite will only orbit a parent for extended time periods precisely because the orbit it is in is stable †. The plain truth of the matter is that we are simply injecting satellites into unstable orbits. If you were to move natural satellites into the same orbits, they'd be unstable too. ...

22

Yes, it absolutely would! The radiation on Europa is about 5.4 Sv (540 rem) of radiation per day. Looking at this guide, and assuming you want to meet OSHA standards of 5 rem per year, you would need to only allow 1 part in 40,000 of the base radiation to make it through. The website linked indicates you want a mass of about 375 pounds/square foot to only ...

17

You can have small moons in the two stable (L4 and L5) Lagrangian points of a main moon, like the Saturn moon Dione's companions Helene and Polydeuces, or Tethys' Telesto and Calypso. If you want more than three moons, you can organize them in a Klemperer rosette, although this type of configuration is not stable. Another option is to have a huge number of ...

14

This is the 1978 image of the Pluto system that led to the discovery of Charon. This is a negative, so the big black blob in the middle is Pluto and Charon. Charon? It's the little bump on the upper right of that blob. You can barely make out Charon. Additional satellites? No. This is a 1990 image of Pluto and Charon taken by the Hubble: This was before ...

14

Your guess is correct. To quote NASA's page, The mosaics each consist of multiple narrow-angle camera (NAC) images with data from the wide-angle camera used to fill in areas where NAC data was not available.

13

The most general answer is this: The Solar System is 4.6 billion years old, anything that happens "quickly" has happened a very long time ago. For example, it is thought that in the early solar system the orbits of Neptune and Uranus where switched, with Neptune being further in than Uranus, but the gentle tug of Jupiter and Saturn eventually pushed them ...

11

If my understanding in correct, the orbit is perfectly circular if the dimensionless orbital parameter of eccentricity (e) is zero. However, I'm not sure how the inclination works with this, and that comes down to the question "circular in what plane?" Anyway, I present to you: Asteroid 113474 (2002 ST57). http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb.cgi?sstr=113474 ...

11

Depends on what you mean by a small stone and if it has to be in a long-term stable orbit around Mars. According to Mark Adler et al. in the Use Of MRO Optical Navigation Camera To Prepare For Mars Sample Return, JPL 2012 (PDF), the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's Optical Navigation Camera (ONC) could be used to detect small Mars' satellites: Unknown small ...

10

It is not being overlooked. There are studies which are being carried out about the feasibility of life on Titan based on methane. It is true that Titan has all the necessary conditions for life: It is not in thermodynamic equilibrium It has more than enough of carbon based molecules It has a fluid environment (ethane/methane) for chemical reactions to ...

9

"Plan" is a vague word... NASA has an orbiter mission in the works: Europa Clipper as a predicate mission prior to any attempt to land. A Europa Lander is a "concept under study" - that is, they are making plans to do the project, but haven't budgeted for it, nor have then given the actual project the proverbial "green light." NASA does have a page about a ...

9

The empirical answer is that there is absolutely no risk of debris reaching a permanently stable orbit. If so, then there would already be a lot of such because of the millions of impacts that the Moon has been subject to in the past. However, for human missions, the question should not only be about permanently stable orbits but also about orbits that ...

8

The short answer is that they DON'T need a correction to stay in orbit. But, as Russell, Rikki, Ross, and others pointed out, they need correction for the "stationary" part of a "stationary geo-synchronous orbit" because they need to stay where our terrestrial dishes are pointing. If they correct small errors they only require small amounts of energy (fuel)....

8

It is theoretically possible, but such a satellite would probably not be in a stable orbit. Such a system is not known in the Solar system and due to gravitational perturbations it would not last long. Popular Science Astro

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They took it seriously enough to publish a rebuttal to it 3 years later, as is documented in Wikipedia. As is well known today, there was an error in the mathematics. Specifically, Wikipedia quotes: Singer's critique was justified when earlier studies were discovered to have used an overestimated value of 5 cm/yr for the rate of altitude loss, which ...

8

would you be able to "fall off" Phobos ? Right now, no. In a few million years, yes. Phobos is slowly spiraling in towards Mars. In a few million years it will be close enough to Mars that tidal forces from Mars will tear Phobos apart. The very rocks that loosely comprise Phobos will fall off of Phobos. Phobos is 27 × 22 × 18 km. Your "edge of Phobos" is ...

8

According to the recent discoveries Europa can have plume activity too. Hubble's observations in ultraviolet and re-analysis of Galileo magnetometer data show the possibility of the plumes at Europa. Cassini took lots of photos of water plumes at Enceladus. But the Galileo probe had a problem with a failed main antenna, that dramatically reduced its ...

7

In order to leave a gravity well, you need to exceed the escape velocity. The escape velocity depends on the mass of the body and your current distance from its center. The escape velocity on the surface of Phobos is approximately 11.4 m/s or 41 km/h. It likely varies depending on where you are on Phobos because the moon is quite irregular-shaped. You would ...

7

The common word, as was mentioned in the comments, is the use of the word System. I have seen this in reference to the Jovian, Saturnian, and Plutonian systems, referring to the planet and collection of moons. If one is referring to just the moons, without the planet, usually the word Satellite is injected (Saturnian Satellite System). It seems this isn't ...

6

There is somewhat of a Darwinian nuance here, even though this is not a question of biology. If something has "survived" potentially billions of years of stable orbit, it is not one of a large number of things that either fell to earth or went away. If the question is, "Why do artificial and natural satellites stay at orbit," the answer is that artificial ...

6

The other moons orbit around both Pluto and Charon, so in a way it is accurate to say that they orbit the Pluto-Charon system rather than just Pluto, since Pluto and Charon orbit a center of gravity outside of Pluto. For now, the IAU has not pursued classifying Pluto-Charon as a double planet, so the moons are all said to be satellites of Pluto. ...

6

According to the Wikipedia article on irregular moons, retrograde orbits further out from a planet are more stable than prograde: Retrograde satellites can be found further from the planet than prograde ones. Detailed numerical integrations have shown this asymmetry. The limits are a complicated function of the inclination and eccentricity, but in general,...

5

Well, it's the sugarcoating blowing off the Saturn's doughnut, of course! Not far from the truth, but jokes aside still, the color dichotomy of Iapetus is due to the darker half, the Cassini Regio, being a result of the moon's accumulation of the dust in the Saturn's largest, yet extremely tenuous, diffuse dust ring called the Phoebe ring depositing onto ...

5

You can use: $x=a\left(\cos\tau-e\right)$ $y=a\sqrt{1-e^2}\sin\tau$ to plot. $a$ is the semi-major axis and $e$ is the eccentricity. The central body being orbited (e.g. the Sun) is at $\left(0,0\right)$. For a Hohmann transfer, you are going from periapsis to apoapsis, or vice-versa, so run $\tau$ from $0$ to $\pi$, or $\pi$ to $2\pi$. You may need ...

5

There are potentially stable Pluto-centric* orbits in the Pluto-Charon system, but so far nothing has been detected in the Sailboat Island of Stability or anywhere else along the New Horizon's flyby trajectory. Otherwise, like the other three answers before me said; All of them, Pluto, Charon, Nix, Hydra, Styx and Kerberos orbit a common center of gravity, ...

5

Mountains on Europa, Callisto, and Ganymede aren't particularly well known. The moons are made of ice, which tends to be flat, and haven't had a mission that could really measure their terrain. This is partially a function of relatively few flybys, 5 of Ganymede, 8 of Callisto, 12 of Europa, and 6 of Io. Io was easy to identify features, but there simply isn'...

5

Interjovian (alt. interjove) is most commonly used term for maneuvers within the orbital space of the Jovian system (example use). Cis- prefix followed by an adjective for a specific Gelilean moon within orbital space of which such maneuvers are performed could also work. E.g. cis-ionian, cis-europan, cis-ganymedean, cis-callistonian. If you're unsure about ...

5

As Uhoh stated, the 1.54 degrees 'Lunar Obliquity to Ecliptic' is more important here. I'm not exactly sure of the length of time that sunlight occurs, but there are elevated locations on the southern pole that experience sunlight for far longer than most places during the Lunar day. According to Air and Space Magazine's 'New Light on the Lunar Poles' ...

4

An online 3-body text is Dynamical Systems, the Three Body Problem and Space Mission Design (big pdf). The trajectories they look at are those with a C3 close to zero (near parabolic) in the regions of the L1 or L2 necks. If a spacecraft is traveling just under or just over the moon's escape velocity in the moon's neighborhood, there may a big variety of ...

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