April 2020 – WinStars 3

WinStars 3.0.128 released

The most important change in this version is the integration of the latest DE438 planetary theory from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a research center located in California, whose objective is to prepare automatic exploration missions. The algorithms developed by the scientists model precisely the positions, velocities and accelerations of the main objects of the solar system.

The laboratory proposes files in the form as Chebyshev polynomial coefficients which give with precision the coordinates and speeds but also, more indirectly, quantities such as the orientations of celestial bodies.

The accuracy of the calculations can be tested in WinStars by setting, for example, the date to June 1, 2017 in the solar system mode and by following the Cassini trajectory (Animation function).

The engineers of this mission, which had run out of fuel, chose to precipitate the probe into Saturn’s atmosphere to avoid contamination of one of its satellites by possible staphylococci that could have survived in Cassini for all those years.

But before destroying the probe, it was decided to make 22 dives between the atmosphere and the planet’s rings in a area rich in scientific information.

This release was also an opportunity to review the source code and correct many defects. In the next version, the Android interface will be improved.