The Orbital Dynamics of Advanced Planetary Observation Systems

Pamela Anderson

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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The increasing interest from the science community to obtain greater quality and quantity of data from Earth and other planets in the Solar System drives research towards developing new means of performing space-based observation. This thesis attempts to address some aspects of this issue by developing novel spacecraft orbits to enhance the opportunities for remote sensing of Earth and the inner planets.
Within this thesis, particular emphasis is placed on investigation of a system that can overcome the critical data deficit for the high-latitude regions of the Earth. These newly proposed highly-elliptical orbits are termed Taranis orbits (Celtic God of thunder) and can offer completion of the Global Observing System using fewer spacecraft and to higher resolution than any other proposed system. Various low-thrust propulsion technologies are considered to enable the Taranis orbits, with electric propulsion found to be the most beneficial following mission analysis. Design of constellations for high-latitude remote sensing is also conducted which highlights both 12 and 16 h orbits to meet the defined requirements of a polar orbiting mission.
Similar methods are also used to develop elliptical sun-synchronous orbits at Earth and novel orbits around Mars, Mercury and Venus to enable new and unique investigations.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Mechanical And Aerospace Engineering
  • Macdonald, Malcolm, Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date17 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • orbital dynamics
  • planetary observation
  • polar orbit
  • remote sensing


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