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Contributions to Libration Orbit Mission Design using Hyperbolic Invariant Manifolds

Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, July 24th. 2007
This PhD. thesis lies within the field of astrodynamics. It provides solutions to problems which have been identified in mission design near libration points, by using  dynamical systems theory.
The restricted three body problem is a well known model to study the motion of an infinitesimal mass under the gravitational attraction of two massive bodies. Its five equilibrium points, specially L1 and L2, have been the object of several studies aimed at practical applications in the last decades (SOHO, Genesis...).
In general, any mission in orbit around L2 of the Sun-Earth system is affected by occultations due to the shadow of the Earth. When the orbit is around L1, the eclipses are caused by the strong electromagnetic influence of the Sun. Among all different types of libration orbits, Lissajous type ones are the combination of two perpendicular oscillations. Its main advantage is that the amplitudes of the oscillations can be chosen independently and this fact makes Lissajous orbits more adaptable to the requirements of each particular mission than other kinds of libration motions. The need for eclipse avoidance strategies in Lissajous orbits around L1 and L2 motivated the first part of the thesis. It is in this part where a tool for planning maneuvers in Lissajous orbits  is presented, which not only solves the eclipse avoidance problem, but can also be used for transferring between orbits having different amplitudes and for planning rendez-vous strategies.
On the other hand, there exist low cost channels joining the L1 and L2 points of a given sistem, which represent a natural way of transferring from one libration region to the other one. Furthermore, there exist hyperbolic invariant objects, called stable and unstable manifolds, which are associated with libration orbits due to their hyperbolic character. If we bear in mind that the stable manifold of a libration orbit consists of trajectories which tend to the orbit as time goes by, and that the unstable manifold does so but backwards in time, any intersection between a stable and an unstable manifold will provide an asymptotic path between the corresponding libration orbits. A methodology for finding such asymptotic connecting paths between planar orbits around L1 and L2 is presented in the second part of the dissertation, including results for the particular cases of the Sun-Earth and Earth-Moon problems.
Moreover, the idea of intersecting hyperbolic manifolds can be applied in the search for low cost paths joining the libration regions of different problems, such as the Sun-Earth and the Earth-Moon ones. If natural paths from the solar libration regions to the lunar ones was found, it would provide a cheap way of transferring to the Moon from the vicinity of the Earth, which is not possible in a direct way using invariant manifolds. And the other way round, paths from the lunar libration regions to the solar ones would allow for the placement of a station in orbit around the lunar L2, providing services to solar libration missions, for instance. In the third part of the thesis, a methodology for finding low cost trajectories joining the lunar L2 region and the solar L2 region is presented. This methodology was developed in a first step for planar orbits and in a further step for Lissajous type orbits, using in both cases two coupled restricted three body problems to model the Sun-Earth-Moon-spacecraft four body problem. Once trajectories have been found in this simplified model, it is convenient to refine them to more realistic models. A methodology for obtaining JPL real ephemeris trajectories from the initial ones found in the coupled models is presented  in the last part of the dissertation. These trajectories need a maneuver at the coupling point, which can be reduced in the refinement process until low cost connecting trajectories in real ephemeris are obtained (even zero cost, when possible).

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