Visualizing the size and surface area of trinary asteroid 1944 CC

Saturday, August 08, 2009

This is a followup to yesterday's post about the exciting news that the asteroid that passed by the Earth in June was actually a trinary system, composed of a main asteroid of 700 m in diameter along with two moons with a diameter of approximately 50 metres each. Since a system like this would be ideal to send a manned mission to, let's take a look at just how much area there is to explore on an asteroid this size. First, here's how 700 metres stacks up against a city - in this case, Seoul (where I live).

The map comes from here. Click on the images to see them in more detail.

That red line shows how long a distance of 700 metres is in comparison to the city. Assuming a sphere, that gives about 1.5 square kilometres of surface area. To visualize this we'll take a look at the same area but from a different angle, from the north of the park instead of the east. The red line is still there, but now the blue lines around it show the total surface area, and thus the total area astronauts would have to explore if they were to land on this asteroid.

For comparison, the park itself has an area of about 0.2 km².

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