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Mercury is a new general-purpose software package for carrying out orbital integrations for problems in solar-system dynamics. Suitable applications include studying the long-term stability of the planetary system, investigating the orbital evolution of comets, asteroids or meteoroids, and simulating planetary accretion. Mercury is designed to be versatile and easy to use, accepting initial conditions in either Cartesian coordinates or Keplerian elements in "cometary" or "asteroidal" format, with different epochs of osculation for different objects. Output from an integration consists of osculating elements, written in a machine-independent compressed format, which allows the results of a calculation performed on one platform to be transferred (e.g. via FTP) and decoded on another.
During an integration, Mercury monitors and records details of close encounters, sungrazing events, ejections and collisions between objects. The effects of non-gravitational forces on comets can also be modeled. The package supports integrations using a mixed-variable symplectic routine, the Bulirsch-Stoer method, and a hybrid code for planetary accretion calculations.