Princeton University and Innovative Orbital Design, Inc.
October 28, 2014
In 1991 a new type of transfer to the Moon was operationally demonstrated by the Japanese spacecraft, Hiten, using ballistic capture. It was designed by this speaker and James Miller. This is capture about the Moon which is automatic so that no rocket engines are required. It was accomplished due to the existence of regions in phase space called weak stability boundaries, where ballistic capture occurs. These are complex fractal regions of unstable chaotic motion. Until recently it was thought that such a transfer to Mars was not feasible. Recent work by Francesco Topputo and this speaker has shown that a new type of ballistic capture transfer exists to Mars, with interesting implications. It will be described how to design these transfers given realistic constraints and why is so challenging.