Using Chebyshev polynomial interpolation to improve the computational efficiency of gravity models near an irregularly-shaped asteroid

Shou-Cun Hu, Jiang-Hui Ji


In asteroid rendezvous missions, the dynamical environment near an asteroid’s surface should be made clear prior to launch of the mission. However, most asteroids have irregular shapes, which lower the efficiency of calculating their gravitational field by adopting the traditional polyhedral method. In this work, we propose a method to partition the space near an asteroid adaptively along three spherical coordinates and use Chebyshev polynomial interpolation to represent the gravitational acceleration in each cell. Moreover, we compare four different interpolation schemes to obtain the best precision with identical initial parameters. An error-adaptive octree division is combined to improve the interpolation precision near the surface. As an example, we take the typical irregularly-shaped near-Earth asteroid 4179 Toutatis to demonstrate the advantage of this method; as a result, we show that the efficiency can be increased by hundreds to thousands of times with our method. Our results indicate that this method can be applicable to other irregularly-shaped asteroids and can greatly improve the evaluation efficiency.


minor planets, asteroids: individual (4179 Toutatis) — methods: numerical — Chebyshev polynomials

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