Vol 15, No 1

Sensitivity study of high eccentricity orbits for Mars gravity recovery

Zhi-Zhou He, Cheng-Li Huang


Abstract By linear perturbation theory, a sensitivity study is presented to calculate the contribution of the Mars gravity field to the orbital perturbations in velocity for spacecrafts in both low eccentricity Mars orbits and high eccentricity orbits (HEOs). In order to improve the solution of some low degree/order gravity coefficients, a method of choosing an appropriate semimajor axis is often used to calculate an expected orbital resonance, which will significantly amplify the magnitude of the position and velocity perturbations produced by certain gravity coefficients. We can then assess to what degree/order gravity coefficients can be recovered from the tracking data of the spacecraft. However, this existing method can only be applied to a low eccentricity orbit, and is not valid for an HEO. A new approach to choosing an appropriate semi-major axis is proposed here to analyze an orbital resonance. This approach can be applied to both low eccentricity orbits and HEOs. This small adjustment in the semi-major axis can improve the precision of gravity field coefficients and does not affect other scientific objectives.


Keywords planets and satellites — Mars methods — analytical variables: gravity, resonance

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