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Resonant motion, ballistic escape, and their applications in astrodynamics

Advances in Space Research
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.asr.2008.01.017
  • Restricted Three/Four-Body Problem
  • Resonance Transition
  • Weak Capture
  • Weak Stability Boundary
  • Low Energy Transfers
  • Ballistic Escape


Abstract A special set of solutions governing the motion of a particle, subject to the gravitational attractions of the Earth, the Moon, and, eventually, the Sun, is discussed in this paper. These solutions, called resonant orbits, correspond to a special motion where the particle is in resonance with the Moon. For a restricted set of initial conditions the particle performs a resonance transition in the vicinity of the Moon. In this paper, the nature of the resonance transition is investigated under the perspective of the dynamical system theory and the energy approach. In particular, using a new definition of weak stability boundary, we show that the resonance transition mechanism is strictly related to the concept of weak capture. This is shown through a carefully computed set of Poincaré surfaces, at different energy levels, on which both the weak stability boundary and the resonant orbits are represented. It is numerically demonstrated that resonance transitioning orbits pass through the weak stability boundaries. In the second part of the paper the solar perturbation is taken into account, and the motion of the resonant orbits is studied within a four-body dynamics. We show that, for a wide class of initial conditions, the particle escapes from the Earth–Moon system and targets an heliocentric orbit. This is a free ejection called a ballistic escape. Astrodynamical applications are discussed.

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