A method for modelling the surface of irregular celestial bodies
Abstract
The surface function of irregular celestial bodies (small satellites like Phobos and Deimos, cometary nuclei, or small asteroids) is expanded in terms of spherical harmonics. A method is given to determine the expansion coefficients by comparing the calculated contours with the contours extracted from a series of images of the body. With given expansion coefficients, this method can be applied to the orientation systems of spacecraft approaching the body. Furthermore, physical quantities like volume, centerofmass coordinates, moments of inertia, and the gravitational field of the body can be calculated analytically. Under the assumption that the gravitational potential can be determined experimentally, a method is described to calculate the radial massdensity profile of the body.
 Publication:

Astronomische Nachrichten
 Pub Date:
 1989
 DOI:
 10.1002/asna.2113100221
 Bibcode:
 1989AN....310..159W
 Keywords:

 Asteroids;
 Astronomical Models;
 Comet Nuclei;
 Planetary Surfaces;
 Satellite Surfaces;
 Center Of Mass;
 Gravitational Fields;
 Iteration;
 Moments Of Inertia;
 Spherical Harmonics;
 Astrophysics