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Study of the environment around the Rosetta candidate target asteroids

Study of the environment around the Rosetta candidate target asteroids

Publication date: 02 May 1999

Authors: Rossi, A. & Fulchignoni, M.

Journal: Planetary and Space Science
Volume: 47
Issue: 6-7
Page: pp. 873-881
Year: 1999

Copyright: Elsevier Science Ltd

The Rosetta spacecraft will fly-by a few asteroids during its course to the final cometary target. The candidate asteroids presently are 3840 Ministrobel (S-type), 2703 Siwa and 140 (C-type).With the limited data presently available on these bodies we calculated some approximate quantities which may be useful to select the fly-by trajectories of the ROSETTA probe. In particular we derived the zones in which particles could stably orbit by analyzing Hills problem of three hierarchical masses--the sun, the asteroid and the orbiting particle. Then, following the approach of Hamilton and Burns, the effects of solar radiation pressure and of the ellipticity of the orbits were also taken into account. In this way for each asteroid we could calculate not only a classical quantity like the radius of the Hill sphere, but also the critical starting orbital distance (as a function of orbital inclination) within which most orbits remain bound to the asteroid, and outside which most escape as a consequence of perturbations. Moreover we determined the orbital stability zone, defined as the union of all the numerically integrated orbits showing long-term stability, for each of the target asteroids. The particular shape of these zones would suggest to have the spacecrafts close approach out of the orbital plane of the asteroids.

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