L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

03 November 2008 Blog Home : November 2008 : Permalink

Rods from the Gods

I've recently been looking at writing science fiction stuff - in fact I'm NaNoWriMo-ing this year and have already written about 3000 words. In the process of doing some preparatory work I needed to check some figures regarding satellites, orbits and how fast, and how hard, you can drop something from space and have it hit the earth.

This is known by a bunch of terms including the title of the post. The reason being that the easiest lump to dispatch from orbit is probably an iron rod.

Anyway the calculator is available for anyone to play with here. It seems to provide answers in the right ballpark but the orbital mechanics calculations were a complete bugger and I ended up doing a basic number crunching algorithm instead of more elegant algebra.

If you uncheck the "Use offical GM (μ) = 3.986x10^14 instead of calculating it" box you can tweak things so that it also applies to other planets. This may be handy for SF writers who want to invent other inhabited planets.