A flow-informed strategy for ballistic capture orbit generation

M. Manzi, F. Topputo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


Ballistic capture is a phenomenon by which a spacecraft approaches its target body, and performs a number of revolutions around it, without requiring manoeuvres in between. Capture orbits are characterized by specific dynamics, defining regions that guide transport phenomena. Because of the limitations associated with existing approaches, the development of heuristics informed by Lagrangian Coherent Structures appears desirable. In fact, such structures identify transport barriers in dynamical systems, separating regions with qualitatively different dynamics. In this work, different flow-informed approaches are presented, and their relations with ballistic capture are discussed. A new heuristic, the time-varying strainline, is introduced. This new tool is applied to compute ballistic capture orbits around Mars. Different degrees of model fidelity have been investigated, mainly in order to test the robustness of the proposed technique with respect to different features of the underlying dynamical model. We show that time-varying strainlines are useful in identifying ballistic capture orbits.
Original languageEnglish
Article number54
JournalCelestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy
Issue number11-12
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2021


  • ballistic capture
  • weak stability boundary
  • low-energy Transfers
  • lagrangian coherent structures
  • lyapunov exponents
  • time-varying strainlines


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