Mixed low-thrust invariant-manifold transfers to distant prograde orbits around Mars

Giorgio Mingotti, Pini Gurfil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Transfers from Earth to Mars have been extensively studied in the literature, with the prevalent approaches being two-body patched-conics-based trajectory optimization or three-body halo-to-halo transfers augmented by lowthrust
coasting arcs. In this work, a new transfer method is suggested. The main idea is to combine manifold theory with low-thrust propulsion in order to reach distant prograde orbits about Mars. The most prominent feature of the
said distant prograde orbits is the associated hyperbolic structure, permitting a free capture by coasting on the stable manifold without any additional injection maneuvers. The preliminary design process includes identification of Martian distant prograde orbits via a numerical continuation of known orbits in Hill’s three-body problem and derivation of a three-phase coupled restricted three-body transfer comprising an Earth-escape stage, a heliocentric
orbit, and a Martian rendezvous.Adirect nonlinear programming-based low-thrust optimization in a full-ephemeris model including the Earth, the moon, and Mars is used to improve the preliminary design and evaluate the
performance of the suggested transfer method.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1753-1764
JournalJournal of Guidance, Control and Dynamics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


  • low-thrust transfers
  • invariant manifolds
  • prograde orbits
  • Mars mission


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