Design And Performance Of Low-energy Orbits For The Exploration Of Enceladus

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
February 6, 2020
Filed under
Design And Performance Of Low-energy Orbits For The Exploration Of Enceladus
Enceladus plumes

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 methodology adopted to design these heteroclinics is presented and discussed. This is followed by the analysis of the observational performance of the solutions, including orbital periods, distance ranges from the surface of Enceladus, orbital elements, speeds in the moon-centered inertial reference frame, instantaneous surface coverage, times of overflight and ground tracks. The conclusion of the analysis 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.

E. Fantino, F.J.T. Salazar, E.M. Alessi
(Submitted on 5 Feb 2020)
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Chaotic Dynamics (nlin.CD)
MSC classes: 70F15, 70F07
Cite as: arXiv:2002.01672 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2002.01672v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Elena Fantino Dr
[v1] Wed, 5 Feb 2020 07:47:05 UTC (7,409 KB)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻