BOTEC 0.3.4

BOTEC is a simple astrophysical and orbital mechanics calculator, including a database of all named Solar System objects.
BOTEC project is a simple astrophysical and orbital mechanics calculator, including a database of all named Solar System objects.

BOTEC is intended as a simple but useful calculator to assist with making astrophysical, orbital mechanics, and space navigation calculations. As the origin of the acronym applies, BOTEC is more of a "back-of-the-envelope calculator" rather than an industrial-strength calculator, although this may change in the future.

BOTEC is primarily intended for people familiar with physics and Python, and as such is unlikely to be useful to the average enduser.

BOTEC really consists of two parts: The BOTEC software, which knows what to do with the data, and the Solar System data itself, which is represented in a large data file (a Python pickle, actually).

This is deliberately modularized so that the Solar System data BOTEC uses can be updated independently of thet software, and also that alternative data files (e.g., hypothetical stellar systems for fictional purposes) can be supported.

All values are strictly in SI units.


Python 2.3 or greater


It is very important to emphasize that BOTEC is intended as a simple calculator, and as such is not up to the task of industrial-strength calculations of the calibre that would be required for actually planning true space missions, although this may well change in the future.
BOTEC was originally intended as a data-generating tool for a computer roleplaying game system (which may or may not come to fruition), but was always intended to be able to exist as a standalone entity. However, this means that as a result of its primary goal, it incurs the same limitations that are present in that particular game design. In particular, these are:
All bodies are spherical, and rotate with constant angular velocity.
All orbits are circular, with another body or a gravitating point at the center (except for toplevel objects like the Sun); thus all bodies orbit with constant angular velocity.
All orbits are coplanar.
All orbits are prograde. This affects only a few major worlds (e.g., Triton) and numerous, tiny, outer Solar System distant satellites. The rotation of objects could possibly be retrograde, since that is only indicated by means of a negative period.
All bodies have negligible size compared to their orbits, and all suborbits have negligible size compared to their parent orbits.
Only objects with actual proper names are included in BOTEC's database. Even objects such as asteroids and satellites with provisional names are not included here. No comets, whether given proper names, or not, however, are included. This would not be hard to change.
For all orbital transfers, it is assumed that the durations of application of deltavee are much shorter than the duration of the flight time. That is, burns are treated as instantaneous (that is, orbital transfers are "impulsive"). This is a good approximation in most cases (even with chemical rockets), but not with more exotic drive systems like ion drives or solar/magnetic sails.
Although many of these limitations involving treating certain orbital parameters as trivial (i.e., coplanar, circular orbits implies setting the inclination and eccentricity both to zero), for the most part that actual physical data is contained within the file. So although BOTEC itself will not treat Mars' orbit as eccentric, mars.eccentricity() will in fact return Mars' actual orbital eccentricity.

What's New in This Release:

Named comets were added to the database.
Fixes were applied to Oberth maneuvers starting from planetary surfaces.

last updated on:
August 28th, 2006, 16:16 GMT
license type:
GPL (GNU General Public License) 
developed by:
Erik Max Francis
ROOT \ Science and Engineering \ Astronomy
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