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Numerical solutions for lunar orbits

Vasile, Massimiliano and Finzi, Amalia E. (1997) Numerical solutions for lunar orbits. In: 48th International Astronautical Congress, 1997-10-06 - 1997-10-10.

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Starting from a variational formulation based on Hamilton’s Principle, the paper exploits the finite element technique in the time domain in order to solve orbital dynamic problems characterised by constrained boundary value rather than initial value problems. The solution is obtained assembling a suitable number of finite elements inside the time interval of interest, imposing the desired constraints, and solving the resultant set of non-linear algebraic equations by means of Newton-Raphson method. In particular, in this work this general solution strategy is applied to periodic orbits determination. The effectiveness of the approach in finding periodic orbits in the unhomogeneous gravity field of the Moon is assessed by means of relevant examples, and the results are compared with those obtained by standard time marching techniques as well as with analytical results.