Novel orbits of Mercury and Venus enabled using low-thrust propulsion

Pamela Anderson, Malcolm Macdonald, Chen-wan L. Yen

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

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Exploration of the inner planets of the Solar System is vital to significantly enhance the understanding of the formulation of Earth and other planets. This paper therefore considers the development of novel orbits of both Mercury and Venus to enhance the opportunities for remote sensing. Continuous low-thrust propulsion is used to extend the critical inclination of highly elliptical orbits at each planet, which are shown to require very small acceleration magnitudes. Unlike other bodies in the Solar System, natural sun-synchronous orbits do not exist at Mercury or Venus. This research therefore also uses continuous acceleration to enable both circular and elliptical sun-synchronous orbits, which could significantly simplify the spacecraft thermal environment. Considerably high thrust levels are however required to enable these orbits, which could not be provided by current propulsion systems.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2013
Event23rd AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Conference - Kauai, Hawaii, United States
Duration: 10 Feb 201314 Feb 2013


Conference23rd AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityKauai, Hawaii


  • novel orbits
  • Mercury orbiter missions
  • Venus orbital missions
  • low-thrust propulsion

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