Packed Provisional and Permanent DesignationsThis document describes the packed forms for provisional and permanent designations.
Provisional DesignationsThe provisional designation stored on the orbit and observations is stored in a 7-character packed format that saves space and makes sorting easier.
Minor PlanetsA description of the format of provisional designations is available.
The first two digits of the year are packed into a single character in column 1 (I = 18, J = 19, K = 20). Columns 2-3 contain the last two digits of the year. Column 4 contains the half-month letter and column 7 contains the second letter. The cycle count (the number of times that the second letter has cycled through the alphabet) is coded in columns 5-6, using a letter in column 5 when the cycle count is larger than 99. The uppercase letters are used, followed by the lowercase letters.
Where possible, the cycle count should be displayed as a subscript when the designation is written out in unpacked format.
Examples: J95X00A = 1995 XA J95X01L = 1995 XL1 J95F13B = 1995 FB13 J98SA8Q = 1998 SQ108 J98SC7V = 1998 SV127 J98SG2S = 1998 SS162 K99AJ3Z = 2099 AZ193 K08Aa0A = 2008 AA360 K07Tf8A = 2007 TA418Survey designations of the form 2040 P-L, 3138 T-1, 1010 T-2 and 4101 T-3 are packed differently. Columns 1-3 contain the code indicating the survey and columns 4-7 contain the number within the survey.
Examples: 2040 P-L = PLS2040 3138 T-1 = T1S3138 1010 T-2 = T2S1010 4101 T-3 = T3S4101
CometsColumns 1-4 are as detailed above for minor planets. Columns 5-6 contain the order within the half-month period. Column 7 will normally be '0', except for split comets, when the fragment designation is stored there as a lower-case letter.
Examples: 1995 A1 = J95A010 1994 P1-B = J94P01b refers to fragment B of 1994 P1 1994 P1 = J94P010 refers to the whole comet 1994 P1 2048 X13 = K48X130 2033 L89-C = K33L89c 2088 A103 = K88AA30 A3 = 103Comet designations may also be given in a 12-character form, where columns 6-12 are as described above. Column 5 will contain a `C', `P', `D' or `X' (depending on the status and orbit type of the comet). For a numbered periodic comet, columns 1-4 contain the periodic-comet number, left-padded with zeroes. For other comets columns 1-4 contain blanks.
Natural SatellitesThe packed provisional format for satellite designations is identical to the packed format for comet designations, with the restriction that the last column (either column 7 or 12, depending on the form) always contains "0".
Permanent DesignationsThe permanent designation stored on the orbit and observations is stored in a 5-character packed format that saves space and makes sorting easier.
Minor PlanetsIf the minor-planet number is less than 100000, then the number is stored as a zero-padded right-justified string. E.g., (3202) is stored as "03202", (50000) as "50000".
When the number is above 99999, the number MOD 10000 is stored in columns 2-5 of the string and the number DIV 10000 is represented by the letters A-Z (if between 10 and 35, inclusive) or a-z (if between 36 and 61, inclusive). E.g., (100345) is represented as "A0345", (360017) as "a0017", and (203289) as "K3289".
CometsPermanent designations for comets are only given to periodic comets seen to return (or for Centaur comets, seen at multiple apparitions). The comet number is stored zero-padded right-justified in columns 1-4. Column 5 usually contains "P", except for lost or defunct periodic comets when it contains "D".