Natural and sail-displaced doubly-symmetric Lagrange point orbits for polar coverage

Matteo Ceriotti, Colin McInnes

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24 Citations (Scopus)
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This paper proposes the use of doubly-symmetric, eight-shaped orbits in the circular restricted three-body problem for continuous coverage of the high-latitude regions of the Earth. These orbits, for a range of amplitudes, spend a large fraction of their period above either pole of the Earth. It is shown that they complement Sun-synchronous polar and highly eccentric Molniya orbits, and present a possible alternative to low thrust pole-sitter orbits. Both natural and solar-sail displaced orbits are considered. Continuation methods are described and used to generate families of these orbits. Starting from ballistic orbits, other families are created either by increasing the sail lightness number, varying the period or changing the sail attitude. Some representative orbits are then chosen to demonstrate the visibility of high-latitude regions throughout the year. A stability analysis is also performed, revealing that the orbits are unstable: it is found that for particular orbits, a solar sail can reduce their instability. A preliminary design of a linear quadratic regulator is presented as a solution to stabilize the system by using the solar sail only. Finally, invariant manifolds are exploited to identify orbits that present the opportunity of a ballistic transfer directly from low Earth orbit.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-180
JournalCelestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy
Issue number1-2
Early online date22 Jun 2012
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


  • three body problem
  • eight-shaped orbits
  • solar sailing
  • polar observation
  • periodic orbits
  • visibility analysis
  • stability


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