DDA2001, April2001
Session 7. Small Rocky Things
Tuesday, 1:20-3:00pm

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[7.02] Stability of Binary Asteroids

D.J. Scheeres (University of Michigan)

The dynamical problem of a binary asteroid system is posed and its stability discussed. In the general binary asteroid problem we consider the motion of two bodies of arbitrary mass distribution as they move relative to each other. Basic results from the classical n-body problem can still apply to such a system and some basic concepts continue to hold. Specifically, the total energy of the system, now including both rotational and translational energy, controls whether the system may ultimately disrupt under its own interactions. Whether or not an excess of positive energy (contained for example in the rotational motion of an asteroid) can be transferred to a positive excess of energy in the translational motion depends on the amount of spin-orbit coupling that can occur between the bodies. Some methods for estimating the amount of energy and angular momentum transfer between rotational and translational motions are introduced. These methods can be used to develop constraints on the long-term stability of a binary asteroid system.

This research was funded by a grant from NASA's Office of Space Science, Planetary Geology and Geophysics Program.

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