Distant-circular solar-sail orbits, a new concept for polar observation of the earth and moon

Fernando Gámez Losada, M.J. Heiligers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review


In this paper, a new family of solar-sail periodic orbits with adequate properties for polar observation of the Earth and Moon is developed under the simplified but non-autonomous dynamics of the Earth-Moon circular-restricted three-body problem. The novel orbits, coined distant-circular orbits, employ a simple Sun-facing steering law for the solar sail. A basic coverage analysis shows that one of the distant-circular orbits is capable of providing continuous coverage of both the Earth’s and lunar North (or South) poles with just a single sailcraft for a minimum elevation of 14 deg and an average range of six Earth-Moon distances. Moreover, simple transfer trajectories between orbits of the family are found, so that the sailcraft can switch between observing the northern and southern latitudes during a sole mission. To asses the impact of higher-fidelity effects, the results are migrated via multipleshooting differential correction to a higher-fidelity dynamical framework which considers, among others, the eccentricity of the Moon’s orbit. Despite the higher-fidelity effects, the trajectories remain close to the distant-circular orbits, allowing them to maintain their coverage capabilities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Specialist Conference
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventAAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Specialist Conference 2020 - virtual event
Duration: 9 Aug 202012 Aug 2020


ConferenceAAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Specialist Conference 2020


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