NASA Launches Trajectory Browser to Map Interplanetary Missions

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NASA's Trajectory Browser allows users to determine viable launch windows for various celestial targets (Credits: NASA).

NASA’s Trajectory Browser allows users to determine viable launch windows for various celestial targets (Credits: NASA).

The Mission Design Center at NASA Ames has published an online tool to perform preliminary analysis of deep space missions to a celestial body.

“The Trajectory Browser website is best used as a first-cut tool to assess the existence of trajectories to small bodies and planets and provide ball-park values on launch date, duration and trajectory requirements,” said Cyrus Foster, an aerospace engineer at the NASA Ames Mission Design Center and lead developer of the Trajectory Browser.

Trajectory Browser allows a user to specify a particular destination or a class of destinations, such as all asteroids of a given magnitude. Plug in constraints such as maximum duration and ΔV, launch window, and fly-by or rendezvous, and click Search. The program turns up a list of potential trajectories, optimized for either ΔV or duration. 

Try it yourself at http://trajbrowser.arc.nasa.gov/index.php. Below, graphical results for a sample return mission to an asteroid larger than1 km.

 Trajectory visualization asteroid sample return 1 km

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Merryl Azriel

Merryl Azriel

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Having wandered into professional writing and editing after a decade in engineering, science, and management, Merryl now enjoys reintegrating the dichotomy by bringing space technology and policy within reach of an interested public. After three years as Space Safety Magazine’s Managing Editor, Merryl semi-retired to Visiting Contributor and manager of the campaign to bring the International Space Station collaboration to the attention of the Nobel Peace Prize committee. She keeps her pencil sharp as Proposal Manager for U.S. government contractor CSRA.

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