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Asteroid Belts

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eggshaped
62968.  Fri Mar 31, 2006 4:24 am Reply with quote

QUESTION: What should you do if you are flying though
an asteroid belt?

FORFEIT: Skilfully dodge all the asteroids flying past
you

ANSWER: Keep an eye open, but it's unlikely you'll
collide with an asteroid.

NOTES:
Despite what you may have seen in bad sci-fi films,
asteroid belts are typically quite desolate places.
Busy when compared with the rest of space, but
desolate nonetheless.

Generally the gap between large asteroids (ones which
could do significant damage to a ship) is about 2
million kilometres. Although there are some clusters
called "families" which have been recently formed from
a larger body; it would not be too difficult to
manoeuvre around an asteroid belt, in fact if you
picked a random course through an asteroid belt, you'd
be lucky to even see even a few asteroids.

http://www.madison.k12.wi.us/observatory/CurrentUnderstanding.htm
http://www.badastronomy.com/bitesize/asteroid.html
http://seds.lpl.arizona.edu/nineplanets/nineplanets/asteroids.html

 
Gray
62975.  Fri Mar 31, 2006 4:32 am Reply with quote

If you're going a gajillion mph, though, it can be a bit tricky.

Some recent evidence lends more weight to the theory that Saturn's rings are made up of debris from a once-destroyed Saturnian moon.

http://www.newscientistspace.com/article.ns?id=dn8917

 
Flash
63019.  Fri Mar 31, 2006 8:35 am Reply with quote

I wonder whether the question should be more explicitly pointed at the supposed difficulty of getting through the belt? Something like:

How could you steer a spaceship through an asteroid belt without being smashed to smithereens?

 
Gray
63027.  Fri Mar 31, 2006 8:54 am Reply with quote

There was some excitement in 1994 when the Cassini probe managed to get through Saturn's rings without being smashed up:
Quote:
Loud applause broke out at NASA last night when the spacecraft moved within 13,000 miles of the top of the planet's clouds, traveling more than 60,000 miles an hour, Cassini arrived after completing a complicated maneuver. It passed through a gap between two of the planet's many rings, in this case the F Ring and G Rings. Then Cassini turned around and fired its main engines to break its progress.


Quote:
The outer rings, like the G-Ring, you could pass through. The inner rings, if you pass a spacecraft through that, you would stand a very good chance of losing your spacecraft. The G-Ring has actually been transited by three spacecraft. Three spacecraft: Voyager I, Voyager II and Pioneer 11 have passed through the G-Ring unscathed.

S: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/science/july-dec04/cassini_7-01.html

 

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