Design and performance of low-energy orbits for the exploration of Enceladus

Elena Fantino, Francisco Salazar, Elisa Maria Alessi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

The icy moons are in the focus of the exploration plans of the leading space agencies because of the indications of water-based life and geological activity observed in a number of these objects. In particular, the presence of geyser-like jets of water near Enceladus’ south pole has turned this moon of Saturn into a priority candidate to search for life and habitability features. This investigation proposes a set of trajectories between Halo orbits about Lagrangian points L1 and L2 in the Saturn-Enceladus Circular Restricted Three-Body Problem as science orbits for a future in situ mission at Enceladus. The design methodology is presented, followed by the analysis of the observational performance of the solutions. The conclusion is that the proposed orbits exhibit suitable features for their use in the scientific exploration of Enceladus, i.e., long transfer times, low altitudes, wide surface visibility windows and long times of overflight.

Original languageBritish English
Article number105393
JournalCommunications in Nonlinear Science and Numerical Simulation
Volume90
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2020

Keywords

  • Circular restricted three-Body problem
  • Halo orbits
  • Heteroclinic connections
  • Icy moons
  • Planetary exploration

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