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Let's say you want to populate an orbital distance R around a planet

as densely as possible with satellites, such that no two ever come

closer than distance N from each other. Let's assume non-decaying

orbits and that they are not constrained to any particular orbital

angle. What kind of arrangement would these orbits have?

Related question, maybe the same one-- what is the mathematical

relationship between the number of intersecting orbital planes (all at

distance R, but at different angles) and the number of satellites in

each orbit? In other words, if you just have one orbit, then you can

pack it with pi*2R/N satellites. If two such orbits intersect, then

obviously each has to contain fewer satellites (they need to 'take

turns' going through the two points of intersection) and so on for

each additional orbit added to the mix, but what is the actual

relationship?

I have a hunch that when there are many orbits, it's best to angle

them such that there are never more than two intersecting. I also have

a hunch that for each R there is an optimal number of orbits beyond

which any additional satellite capacity from more orbits would be

offset by the decrease in the number of satellites each of the orbits

would have to undergo in order to accomodate the new one. I don't know

how to evaluate these hunches, but if they are correct, then I can

sort of envision how a densely populated orbital distance would look--

sort of like a hollowed out ball of yarn, with relatively large gaps.

I'm not expecting somebody to actually have the right equation or

software simulator handy (though of course it would be great if

somebody did). Any helpful information at all would be appreciated:

references to books or papers, names of authors, the proper technical

terms for the question I'm asking, search terms to try, or even the

name of the subdiscipline/s of math/physics that study these

questions.

--Thanks, AFB

- --

Vickie Weaver assault rifle George Bush

Why are the above words in my signature? Check out:

http://www.echelon.wiretapped.net

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