Solar sail trajectory design in the Earth-Moon circular restricted three body problem
The quest to explore the Moon has helped resolve scientific questions, has spurred leaps in technology development, and has revealed Earth's celestial companion to be a gateway to other destinations. With a renewed focus on returning to the Moon in this decade, alternatives to chemical propulsion systems are becoming attractive methods to efficiently use scarce resources and support extended mission durations. Thus, an investigation is conducted to develop a general framework, that facilitates propellant-free Earth-Moon transfers by exploiting sail dynamics in combination with advantageous transfer options offered in the Earth-Moon circular restricted multi-body dynamical model. Both periodic orbits in the vicinity of the Earth-Moon libration points, and lunar-centric long-term capture orbits are incorporated as target destinations to demonstrate the applicability of the general framework to varied design scanarios, each incorporating a variety of complexities and challenges. The transfers are comprised of three phases - a spiral Earth escape, a transit period, and, finally, the capture into a desirable orbit in the vicinity of the Moon. The Earth-escape phase consists of spiral trajectories constructed using three different sail steering strategies - locally optimal, on/off and velocity tangent. In the case of the Earth-libration point transfers, naturally occurring flow structures (e.g., invariant manifolds) arising from the mutual gravitational interaction of the Earth and Moon are exploited to link an Earth departure spiral with a destination orbit. In contrast, sail steering alone is employed to establish a link between the Earth-escape phase and capture orbits about the Moon due to a lack of applicable natural structures for the required connection. Metrics associated with the transfers including flight-time and the influence of operational constraints, such as occultation events, are investigated to determine the available capabilities for Earth-Moon transfers given current sail technology levels. Although the implemented steering laws suffice to generate baseline paths, infeasible turn rate demands placed on the sail are also investigated to explore the technical hurdles in designing Earth-Moon transfers. The methodologies are suitable for a variety of mission scenarios and sail configurations, rendering the resulting trajectories valuable for a diverse range of applications.
Howell, Purdue University.
Off-Campus Purdue Users:
To access this dissertation, please log in to our