New families of Sun-centred non-Keplerian orbits over cylinders and spheres

Jeannette Heiligers, Colin McInnes

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4 Citations (Scopus)
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This paper introduces new families of Sun-centered non-Keplerian orbits (NKOs) that are constrained to a three-dimensional, cylindrical or spherical surface. As such, they are an extension to the well-known families of displaced NKOs that are confined to a two-dimensional plane. The cylindrical and spherical orbits are found by investigating the geometrically constrained spacecraft dynamics. By imposing further constraints on the orbit's angular velocity and propulsive acceleration, the set of feasible orbits is defined. Additionally, the phase spaces of the orbits are explored and a numerical analysis is developed to find periodic orbits. The richness of the problem is further enhanced by considering both an inverse square acceleration law (mimicking solar electric propulsion) and a solar sail acceleration law to maintain the spacecraft on the three-dimensional surface. The wealth of orbits that these new families of NKOs generate allows for a range of novel space applications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-194
JournalCelestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy
Issue number2
Early online date17 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014


  • solar sailing
  • solar electric propulsion (SEP)
  • orbital mechanics
  • non-Keplerian orbits


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