Thursday, September 24, 2009

Please stay on the HOV lane until you reach Ganymede

A news story in the Daily Telegraph describes how mapping the Lagrange points for the planets and moons of our solar system will allow interplanetary and intersatellite travel with much less fuel consumption. I was amazed by the figure they quoted for the Genesis mission in 2004 (the only one to make use of this idea so far) - a factor of 10 less fuel used compared to a traditional mission profile.

Two things come to mind:
1) It could not happen with out computers. Dogin the three-body problem, even the restricted three-body problem in which one mass is much less than the other two, is hard. Gluing the various solutions together to make this map could have only hapenned n the era of high speed processor and large memory.

2) Why do British papers have such good science writers?

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