One more interesting way to simulate driving around asteroids of various sizes

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Two weeks ago I wrote a post here showing the surface area, surface gravity and escape velocity of asteroids of various sizes in order to give some idea of what it would be like to actually explore or live on the surface of one of these, given the fact that the difference between Little Prince-style asteroids where one can break orbit through a simple misstep and 21 Lutetia-sized asteroids where one couldn't break orbit without a velocity similar to a commercial jet is not well known.

One other interesting way to simulate the size of an asteroid is to use this driving simulator here. It's an online simulator that uses Google Maps, and is quite simple in that one does not need to worry about any obstacles - cars, trees, mountains, nothing is a hazard and you can just drive straight through. This makes it a very good tool to show the circumference of an asteroid, i.e. how long it would take to drive from one point all the way around and back again. So let's take a look at the same asteroid sizes given in the chart, and this time instead of giving surface gravity and escape velocity we'll look at their circumference as well as how long it takes to drive around them at various speeds. The simulator goes up to 160 kph, so we'll go with 50 kph (city driving), 100 kph (highway driving) and 160 kph (crazy highway driving or a casual ultralight airplane).

Ceres has been added to the end too even though it's technically not an asteroid.

DiameterCircumference
One revolution at 50 kph
100 kph
160 kph

100 m

314 m
22 seconds
11 seconds
7 seconds
500 m
1570 m
112 seconds
56 seconds
35 seconds

1 km
3140 m
226 seconds
113 seconds
70 seconds
2 km
6.2 km
7.5 minutes
226 seconds
141 seconds
3 km
9.4 km
11.2 minutes
5.6 minutes
212 seconds
5 km
15.7 km
18.8 minutes
9.4 minutes
5.9 minutes
10 km
31.4 km
37.6 minutes
18.8 minutes
11.8 minutes
15 km
47.1 km
56.5 minutes
28.2 minutes
17.6 minutes
20 km
62.8 km
75.2 minutes
37.6 minutes
23.5 minutes
25 km
78.5 km
94 minutes
47 minutes
29.3 minutes
30 km
94.2 km
112 minutes
56 minutes
35 minutes
35 km
110 km
2.2 hours
66 minutes
41 minutes
40 km
126 km
2.5 hours
75 minutes
48 minutes
45 km
140 km
2.8 hours
84 minutes
53 minutes
50 km
157 km
3.1 hours
94 minutes
47 minutes
60 km
190 km
3.8 hours
114 minutes
59 minutes
70 km
220 km
4.4 hours
2.2 hours
82 minutes
80 km
250 km
5 hours
2.5 hours
94 minutes
90 km
282 km
5.6 hours
2.8 hours
107 minutes
100 km
314 km
6.3 hours
3.1 hours
118 minutes
125 km
392 km
7.8 hours
3.9 hours
146 minutes
150 km
470 km
9.4 hours
4.7 hours
2.9 hours
175 km
550 km
11 hours
5.5 hours
3.4 hours
200 km
628 km
12.6 hours
6.3 hours
3.9 hours
250 km
785 km
15.7 hours
7.85 hours
4.9 hours
300 km
942 km
18.8 hours
9.4 hours
5.9 hours
Vesta
(529 km)
1660 km
33 hours
16.6 hours
10.4 hours
Ceres (950 km)
2984 km
60 hours
30 hours
18.7 hours

So if someone wants to know for example how large 21 Lutetia is (the asteroid Rosetta flew by just a few weeks ago), tell them to go to the driving simulator, rev it up to 160 kph, and watch the world pass by for 107 minutes. That's one revolution around 21 Lutetia.

The driving simulator also has an odometer so when actually driving you can just keep an eye on that instead of the clock.

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