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Questions tagged [orbital-mechanics]

For questions dealing with how bodies interact with each other in space via gravitation.

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What would the moon look like if its orbit was highly inclined?

How would the phases of the moon change depending on the inclination of its orbit with respect to its primary's equatorial plane? Earth's moon has an orbit that is rather close to the ecliptic, but ...
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Would mining huge amounts of resources on the Moon change its orbit?

Imagine that humanity builds mining facilities on the moon. We know that the moon has Helium-3 which could be used as fuel for fusion reactors. Also, there are a lot of other resources which could be ...
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Habitable world orbiting a gas giant orbiting a gas giant

How likely would a habitable world be that orbits a gas giant that itself is orbiting a larger gas giant? Assuming one exists, what are the likely conditions?
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Planet with big axial tilt, but very close to its star

It is known that when a planet orbits very close around its star, the tidal effects will soon (on an astronomical scale) force the day and the year of the planet to have the same length, making the ...
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Is it possible for the remnants of a planet to be locked in orbit around another in a dual planet system?

I'm envisioning a double-planet system where both orbit around a central point. One planet is approximately Earth-sized, while the other is about one-tenth the size. One of the planets (the smaller ...
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Types of life on a planet in a sun-synchronous orbit?

Basically, a sun-synchronous orbit is where one side of an object is always facing a star as it revolves around it (much like our Moon is, which is where the phrase 'dark side of the moon' originates')...
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Orbital Resonance & Tidal Locking

I'm building a habitable world tidally locked to a red dwarf star. In order to affect a tide and other weather patterns I was going to have another planet closer to the star that has an orbital ...
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160 Year Solar Orbital Period & 1.9 Year Moon Orbital Period - Is it possible?

A defining factor of my world is the hardships inhabitants have to face when surviving long seasons. Due to the extreme length of a year, time is largely measured by moon cycles. I need to make sure ...
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Only changing the mass of the moon, how much can lunar mass increase before the Earth becomes uninhabitable?

Bonus: How much would the increase in lunar mass increase average tides? & which factors would cause the Earth to become uninhabitable?
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Tides with 3 Largish Moons

I would like to have an Earth-like planet (~Earth gravity, ~Earth day, ~Earth year, and liquid water oceans) with extreme variance in its tides. I want the lowest tide to reveal about 30 miles of ...
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257 views

In a world with 12 moons but NO sun, how to define a day? [closed]

I made the map of my fantasy world before thinking about the physics, as you can see bellow the art! I'm interested to understand how to decide which moon is in the sky at a given moment, if it's ...
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How can I launch a projectile to hit something in orbit, using only geological structures and power sources?

As an ancient organism whom currently occupies a large chunk of a planet beneath the surface, I have a pesky issue with an invasive species. These humans have decided to colonize my home, mistaking it ...
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Can a planet's atmosphere be in orbit around the planet? [duplicate]

Imagine a planet somewhat like Saturn except that its rings are its atmosphere instead of rocks and ice. Is this theoretically possible? (a) If so, what conditions would need to be true and what ...
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Would a portal to space enable propulsionless orbital launch

I'm writing a story about a race that has space travel capabilities without rocket technology, instead is using a portal to space and was wondering whether it's possible for them to put something in ...
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1answer
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Could a synchronously-rotating planet in the goldilocks zone exist? [duplicate]

An earth like planet in terms of lots of water and an atmosphere. The liquid water on the sunny side would evaporate due to the extreme heat and the snow and ice on the dark side would never melt due ...
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Calculating an eccentric enough orbit to allow a dip into atmosphere and escape again

How would I calculate if it is possible to have an eccentric enough orbit around a gas giant to dip the periapsis some depth(how deep?) into the atmosphere of a gas giant like Jupiter or Saturn and ...
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How difficult would it be to turn the Asteroid Belt into a single body? What's the best method?

The Emperor (may he live forever) plans to visit the Solar System on a rare royal visit in ten years' time. The Bureau for Interplanetary Tidying have decided that the Asteroid Belt is an eyesore that ...
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Independently Tidelocked Moon?

Simple question that might seem odd. Not going to get too specific but I am curious, more or less, as to what it would look like for a planet that had a moon (A habital one) which was in essence ...
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1answer
176 views

Determining this horseshoe/co-orbital moon's possible orbital periods

I've been working on a system with a habitable moon (Moon A) for a story, and I'm now trying to populate the other moons around the parent planet. I'm considering placing one (Moon B) in a co-orbit, ...
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3answers
229 views

A planet that cannot be orbited [duplicate]

I'm wondering if it is possible for a planet to be impossible to orbit stably over a significant length of time. The shorter the length of time the planet can be orbited for, the better. It should ...
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3answers
433 views

Practicality Of Orbital Fusion Reactors for Power

Much of the struggle with terrestrial fusion power seems to be with keeping the ultra-hot plasma contained. In a classic Tokamak configuration, magnets using massive amounts of power, suspend the ...
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2answers
340 views

Harvesting resources from a geostationary point 100km above sea level

Consider a planet which is entirely Earth-like. Same mass, same rotation, etc. But in this world, resource-rich objects are suspended by some phenomenon at varying altitudes up to 200km above sea ...
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Co-orbits and Tides

I've seen many questions about tides and tidal variations on a wide variety of interesting single star, multi star, single planet, binary planet, single moon, multiple moon, and even ring system ...
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Earth tilt changes due to space launches

How many rocket launches are needed to change the axial tilt of the Earth so much that it is noticeable with instruments available today? We can assume that we are talking about the heaviest rocket ...
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2answers
113 views

Artificial satellite in a Binary Star System

Is it possible for an artificial satellite (in this case, an unmanned communications platform) to maintain a stable orbit directly around the barycenter of a Binary Star system, as in well inside the ...
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3answers
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Let's plot a course between Earth and Gor

We know that Gor, or Counter-Earth, is not stable in a long-term sense. Let's handwave that away, or assume that we are dealing with a temporary span of time in which the instability is immaterial. ...
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1answer
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Semi-Brachistochrone, Is It Possible?

Would it be possible for there to be an almost torchship (essentially a very, very weak one) which could fly almost brachistochrone trajectories? So instead of a full on brachistochrone, where you ...
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5answers
651 views

How likely is the flotsam of a space battle to be captured by our sun's gravity well?

A light-year distant from Sol saw the collision of a massive space-born battle fleet against an awe-inspiring dreadnought. At one point in the battle, the flotilla fired rail-guns with 100 metric ton ...
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2answers
957 views

What sort of acceleration would I need for my space ship to reach Eris in 3 months

I have been working on a sci-fi story for a little while now, and have recently discovered that I made a very big error in assuming the position of Eris. The main issue is that I had forgotten to take ...
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4answers
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Rings made out of water? [duplicate]

There have been numerous questions on this site about moons being composed entirely of water. However, is it possible for a planet to have rings made out of water? I think that the ring would ...
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2answers
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Can I arrange my stars in a tetrahedron?

Inspired by this question: Consider a trinary star system, in which the three stars are arranged in an xy plane and all revolving the same direction, equidistant from each other. The inward pull of ...
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Are there any software tools available to map the solar system hundreds of years from now?

I am writing a scifi novel based roughly four hundred years from now, and it occurred to me that the planets and other objects might not be quite where I need them to be for certain travel details to ...
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Would it be more efficient to build fleets in orbit?

My Dino theme park business didn't end well and I reluctantly fall into depression and decided to go into suspended animation to seek a cure. 200 years later, a lady claims she works with the military ...
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Could the moon crash into the earth if we colonised it and increased its mass?

Suppose we begin to colonize the moon. Assuming the building materials and biological material are all imported (not taken on-site), would it be possible for the moon to become massive enough to fall ...
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A supermassive black hole is coming our way. When's the latest that we would notice?

I'm trying to build a story around a supermassive black hole, which is ejected from a merger of two galaxies, that is hurtling our own way. What is the smallest realistic distance at which the black ...
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2answers
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Getting Three Comets to Synchronize Their Orbits… Occasionally

I'm working on a flintlock fantasy series and I want to figure out how to get three comets with different orbital periods to occasionally all show up at the same time. All three are "great comets" ...
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The dreaded apocalyptic asteroid approaches Earth but lands 'safely' on the Moon [closed]

NOTE- PLEASE DON'T ANSWER HERE. I'M DELETING HERE AND MOVING TO SPACE EXPLORATION SE. https://space.stackexchange.com/questions/32411/the-dreaded-apocalyptic-asteroid-approaches-earth-but-lands-...
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Why would it be unfortunate for a day length to vary in a planet; other than that Java API developers need to work a few hours more? [closed]

Quoting from the Java Docs: Unfortunately, as the Earth rotates the length of the day varies. In addition, over time the average length of the day is getting longer as the Earth slows. I am ...
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Habitable zone around a Blue Supergiant

I am writing a story centered around a planet orbiting a Blue Supergiant star. What I want to know is how far away a planet would have to be to be in the habitable zone of such a star. The star I ...
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What would be the impact on Titan, Saturn and the Solar system if aliens harvested as much hydrocarbons as possible from Saturn's moon?

The scenario Many science fiction novels are concerned with aliens visiting Earth, but what if aliens have no interest in Earth at all and yet they arrive at the Solar system for the sole purpose of ...
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Temperature on a bulls-eye planet planet orbiting a red dwarf star [closed]

I recently attended a talk on current research into exoplanets and it got me thinking. I want to create a setting on a tidally locked eyeball planet for a futuristic sci-fi story. What I want to ...
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Could this moon of a gas giant orbiting a neutron star support life?

Making the following assumptions: 1. The three moons of the Gas Giant are safe enough distances from and massive enough not to pull each other apart or send themselves careening into the void. 2. ...
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What kind of impact could strip Venus and make it spin faster?

I'm trying to create plausible scenario under which we could colonize Venus. Is it possible that Venus could be hit by a planetoid and the impact strips its atmosphere and makes it spin faster? I'm ...
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2answers
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Earth Orbit Extreme Change

So recently I got slated for missing some glaring obvious flaws in my story on here, which I really do appreciate. I'm approaching the question from a different angle though, in two parts. What ...
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1answer
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Earth Exploded, Orbiting and double moons

I have a scenario which I am too poorly knowledgeable to address, I'm hoping for some expert input. I'm currently writing a novel, in which a large section of Russia/EU continents were blown up in a ...
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What is the maximum orbital time for my moon around my planet?

I fear the math involved is beyond my capabilities on this one. I have what I consider to be more than a Layman's understanding of the physics involved, and I believe I can follow the math well ...
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Opaque Solar Shield in Geosynchronous Orbit: Plausibility + Challenges of Maintaining Orbit

Suppose humans of the late 21st century or beyond began constructing a solar shield as a solution to climate change. Suppose for some reason (open to suggestions) they choose to build the shield in ...
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How do you non-catastrophically reduce the mass of the Sun by half?

In my previous question, I asked how much mass the Sun would have to lose in order for Saturn's orbital velocity to be its escape velocity. The answer proved to be somewhat unexpected - when the Sun ...
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Can the Sun lose enough mass that Saturn's current velocity becomes escape velocity?

Imagine that, through some cosmic phenomena not yet understood, the Sun 'burps' and ejects a vast amount of its mass into the cosmic void. A huge coronal discharge, perhaps. A pressure bubble inside ...
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Two planets with the same orbital period [duplicate]

I have the following star system configuration: All bodies always stay on one line. Star is similar to sun by parameters. "Green" planet is Earth-like exoplanet with 1 earth-year orbital period, ...