Earth–Mars transfers with ballistic escape and low-thrust capture

Research paper by G. Mingotti, F. Topputo, F. Bernelli-Zazzera

Indexed on: 01 May '11Published on: 01 May '11Published in: Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy


In this paper novel Earth–Mars transfers are presented. These transfers exploit the natural dynamics of n-body models as well as the high specific impulse typical of low-thrust systems. The Moon-perturbed version of the Sun–Earth problem is introduced to design ballistic escape orbits performing lunar gravity assists. The ballistic capture is designed in the Sun–Mars system where special attainable sets are defined and used to handle the low-thrust control. The complete trajectory is optimized in the full n-body problem which takes into account planets’ orbital inclinations and eccentricities. Accurate, efficient solutions with reasonable flight times are presented and compared with known results.