Journal of Theoretical
and Applied Mechanics

46, 3, pp. 551-564, Warsaw 2008

Low-thrust chaotic based transfer from the earth to a halo orbit

Elbert E.N. Macau
Halo orbits around the Lagrange points serve as excellent platforms for scientific missions involving the Sun as well as planetary explorations. The satellites ISEE-3, GGS_WIND, SOHO and ACE have exploited these orbits to accomplish their missions. The trajectory design in support of such missions is increasingly challenging as more complex missions, like the case of the Next Generation Space Telescope, are envisioned in the near future. The purpose of this paper is to introduce a new chaotic-based transfer strategy that can be used to transfer a spacecraft from the vicinity of the Earth to a halo orbit around the equilibrium point $ L_1$ of the Earth-Sun system. The strategy exploits the inherent exponential sensitivity of chaotic time evolutions to perturbations to guide a spacecraft from its starting position to an invariant stable manifold of the chosen halo orbit. As just judiciously chosen perturbations are used, the transfer operation requires very small amounts of fuel. As an example, we applied the method in context of the restricted three-body problem, which gives a good insight into the strategies to be used in a real situation.
Keywords: chaos; control of chaos; orbital transfer