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Category# Topics in astrodynamics

Summary

Orbital mechanics or astrodynamics is the application of ballistics and celestial mechanics to the practical problems concerning the motion of rockets and other spacecraft. The motion of these objects is usually calculated from Newton's laws of motion and the law of universal gravitation. Orbital mechanics is a core discipline within space-mission design and control.
Celestial mechanics treats more broadly the orbital dynamics of systems under the influence of gravity, including both spacecraft and natural astronomical bodies such as star systems, planets, moons, and comets. Orbital mechanics focuses on spacecraft trajectories, including orbital maneuvers, orbital plane changes, and interplanetary transfers, and is used by mission planners to predict the results of propulsive maneuvers.
General relativity is a more exact theory than Newton's laws for calculating orbits, and it is sometimes necessary to use it for greater accuracy or in high-gravity situations (e.g. orbits near the Sun).
Until the rise of space travel in the twentieth century, there was little distinction between orbital and celestial mechanics. At the time of Sputnik, the field was termed 'space dynamics'. The fundamental techniques, such as those used to solve the Keplerian problem (determining position as a function of time), are therefore the same in both fields. Furthermore, the history of the fields is almost entirely shared.
Johannes Kepler was the first to successfully model planetary orbits to a high degree of accuracy, publishing his laws in 1605. Isaac Newton published more general laws of celestial motion in the first edition of Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687), which gave a method for finding the orbit of a body following a parabolic path from three observations. This was used by Edmund Halley to establish the orbits of various comets, including that which bears his name. Newton's method of successive approximation was formalised into an analytic method by Leonhard Euler in 1744, whose work was in turn generalised to elliptical and hyperbolic orbits by Johann Lambert in 1761–1777.

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Halo orbit

A halo orbit is a periodic, three-dimensional orbit near one of the L1, L2 or L3 Lagrange points in the three-body problem of orbital mechanics. Although a Lagrange point is just a point in empty space, its peculiar characteristic is that it can be orbited by a Lissajous orbit or by a halo orbit. These can be thought of as resulting from an interaction between the gravitational pull of the two planetary bodies and the Coriolis and centrifugal force on a spacecraft. Halo orbits exist in any three-body system, e.

Hohmann transfer orbit

In astronautics, the Hohmann transfer orbit (ˈhoʊmən) is an orbital maneuver used to transfer a spacecraft between two orbits of different altitudes around a central body. Examples would be used for travel between low Earth orbit and the Moon, or another solar planet or asteroid. In the idealized case, the initial and target orbits are both circular and coplanar. The maneuver is accomplished by placing the craft into an elliptical transfer orbit that is tangential to both the initial and target orbits.

Orbital speed

In gravitationally bound systems, the orbital speed of an astronomical body or object (e.g. planet, moon, artificial satellite, spacecraft, or star) is the speed at which it orbits around either the barycenter or, if one body is much more massive than the other bodies of the system combined, its speed relative to the center of mass of the most massive body. The term can be used to refer to either the mean orbital speed (i.e. the average speed over an entire orbit) or its instantaneous speed at a particular point in its orbit.

Learn the concepts used in the design of space missions, manned or unmanned, and operations, based on the professional experience of the lecturer.

Learn the concepts used in the design of space missions, manned or unmanned, and operations, based on the professional experience of the lecturer.

Space Mission Design and Operations

Covers space mission design, spacecraft energy, orbits, and maneuvers, including gravity effects, tethers, and interplanetary trajectories.

Space Mission Design and Operations

Explores space mission design, conservation laws, radiation balance, and interplanetary trajectories, including practical applications of reaction wheels and space tethers.

Kepler's Laws and Orbital Mechanics

Explores Kepler's laws, orbital mechanics, energy of motion, flight path angles, orbital maneuvers, Hohmann transfers, geostationary orbits, and Lagrange points.

Atmosphere

An atmosphere () is a layer of gas or layers of gases that envelop a planet, and is held in place by the gravity of the planetary body. A planet retains an atmosphere when the gravity is great and the temperature of the atmosphere is low. A stellar atmosphere is the outer region of a star, which includes the layers above the opaque photosphere; stars of low temperature might have outer atmospheres containing compound molecules. The atmosphere of Earth is composed of nitrogen (78 %), oxygen (21 %), argon (0.

Euclidean geometry

Euclidean geometry is a mathematical system attributed to ancient Greek mathematician Euclid, which he described in his textbook on geometry, Elements. Euclid's approach consists in assuming a small set of intuitively appealing axioms (postulates) and deducing many other propositions (theorems) from these. Although many of Euclid's results had been stated earlier, Euclid was the first to organize these propositions into a logical system in which each result is proved from axioms and previously proved theorems.

Classical mechanics

Classical mechanics is a physical theory describing the motion of macroscopic objects, from projectiles to parts of machinery and astronomical objects, such as spacecraft, planets, stars, and galaxies. For objects governed by classical mechanics, if the present state is known, it is possible to predict how it will move in the future (determinism), and how it has moved in the past (reversibility). The "classical" in "classical mechanics" does not refer classical antiquity, as it might in, say, classical architecture.

The pivot-slide model (Shegelski and Lozowski) successfully predicts the slide and curl distances of a curling rock. However, in this model, there is no dependence of the curl distance on the initial