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Survey of highly non-Keplerian orbits with low-thrust propulsion

Mckay, Robert and Macdonald, Malcolm and Biggs, James and McInnes, Colin (2011) Survey of highly non-Keplerian orbits with low-thrust propulsion. Journal of Guidance, Control and Dynamics, 34 (3). pp. 645-666. ISSN 1533-3884

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Abstract

Celestial mechanics has traditionally been concerned with orbital motion under the action of a conservative gravitational potential. In particular, the inverse square gravitational force due to the potential of a uniform, spherical mass leads to a family of conic section orbits, as determined by Isaac Newton, who showed that Kepler‟s laws were derivable from his theory of gravitation. While orbital motion under the action of a conservative gravitational potential leads to an array of problems with often complex and interesting solutions, the addition of non-conservative forces offers new avenues of investigation. In particular, non-conservative forces lead to a rich diversity of problems associated with the existence, stability and control of families of highly non-Keplerian orbits generated by a gravitational potential and a non-conservative force. Highly non-Keplerian orbits can potentially have a broad range of practical applications across a number of different disciplines. This review aims to summarize the combined wealth of literature concerned with the dynamics, stability and control of highly non-Keplerian orbits for various low thrust propulsion devices, and to demonstrate some of these potential applications.