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Aerospace Engineering Seminar

Monday, April 22, 2019
1:00pm to 2:00pm
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Guggenheim 133 (Lees-Kubota Lecture Hall)
Approaching Moons in Chaotic Environments with Applications to Europa Lander
Rodney L. Anderson, Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology,

New and proposed missions for approaching moons, and particularly icy moons, increasingly require the design of trajectories within challenging multi-body environments that stress or exceed the capabilities of the two-body design methodologies typically used over the last several decades. These current methods encounter difficulties because they often require appreciable user interaction, result in trajectories that require significant amounts of propellant, or miss potential mission-enabling options. The use of dynamical systems methods applied to three-body and multi-body models provides a pathway to obtain a fuller theoretical understanding of the problem that can then result in significant improvements to trajectory design in each of these areas. The search for approach trajectories within highly nonlinear, chaotic regimes where multi-body effects dominate becomes increasingly complex, especially when landing, orbiting, or flyby scenarios must be considered in the analysis. In the case of icy moons, approach trajectories must also be tied into the broader tour which includes flybys of other moons. The tour endgame typically includes the last several flybys, or resonances, before the final approach to the moon, and these resonances further constrain the type of approach that may be used.

In this seminar, new methods for approaching moons by traversing the chaotic regions near the Lagrange point gateways will be discussed for several examples. The emphasis will be on landing trajectories approaching Europa including a global analysis of trajectories approaching any point on the surface and analyses for specific landing scenarios across a range of different energies. The constraints on the approach from the tour within the context of the endgame strategy will be given for a variety of different moons and scenarios. Specific approaches using quasiperiodic or Lissajous orbits will be shown, and general landing and orbit insertion trajectories will be placed into context relative to the invariant manifolds of unstable periodic and quasiperiodic orbits. These methods will be discussed and applied for the specific example of the Europa Lander mission concept. The Europa Lander mission concept is particularly challenging in that it requires the redesign of the approach scenario after the spacecraft has launched to accommodate landing at a wide range of potential locations on the surface. The final location would be selected based on reconnaissance from the Europa Clipper data once Europa Lander is in route. Taken as a whole, these methods will provide avenues to find both fundamentally new approach pathways and reduce cost to enable new missions.