• Processing (Info)

  • Packed Provisional Designations

    The provisional designations stored on the orbit and observations is stored in a 7-character packed format that saves space and makes sorting easier.

    Minor Planets

    A 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.

       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 TA418
    Survey 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.
       2040 P-L  = PLS2040
       3138 T-1  = T1S3138
       1010 T-2  = T2S1010
       4101 T-3  = T3S4101


    Columns 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.
       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 = 103
    Comet 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 Satellites

    The 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".