Binary asteroid landing trajectory design from a self-stabilized terminator orbit considering parametric uncertainties

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The landing of probes on minor solar system bodies allows for in depth analyses on the formation and evolution of these types of bodies. Due to the long descent time and highly non-linear environment, a minor body landing trajectory can be highly sensitive to uncertainties in the deployment state and environment parameters. In this research, a method to design robust ballistic landing trajectories is introduced and applied to the case of Didymos. Specifically, the landing trajectory is initiated from a self-stabilized terminator orbit (SSTO) and lands on the surface of the secondary body Dimorphos. Starting from a range of allowable landing conditions and uncertainties in the gravitational fields of the bodies, a set of trajectories together with its uncertainties is propagated backwards in time using the generalised intrusive polynomial algebra method until it intersect with the SSTO. This solution is then refined using a grid search together with the non-intrusive Chebyshev interpolation method to propagate the uncertain state forward in time. It is shown that the trajectory found with this technique is able to improve the landing success percentage by 26 percent compared to conventional methods. The approach developed in this work allows for the design of ballistic trajectories under uncertainties, and increases the safety and feasibility of these types of missions.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2022
Event73rd International Astronautical Congress 2022 - Paris, France
Duration: 18 Sept 202222 Sept 2022


Conference73rd International Astronautical Congress 2022
Abbreviated titleIAC 2022


  • Didymos system
  • uncertainty analysis
  • ballistic landings
  • trajectory design


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