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RUDN University mathematician calculates the optimal trajectories to Mars and Mercury for a spacecraft with electric propulsion

RUDN University mathematician calculates the optimal trajectories to Mars and Mercury for a spacecraft with electric propulsion

RUDN University mathematician proposed a method for calculating the optimal trajectory of spacecraft with electric propulsion, whose thrust is thousands times less than chemical one has, but it is able to work for years. These motors are best suited for interplanetary missions. Mathematicians calculated the flight parameters of the space probe with such motor to Mars and Mercury. The paper is published in the journal Cosmic Research.

Chemical rocket engines create a large thrust, which allows bringing tons of cargo in orbit for a few minutes. At the same time, a huge amount of fuel is consumed. Once the spacecraft is in outer space, a large thrust becomes unnecessary, especially for automatic interplanetary stations that can fly to their destination for years.

An electric propulsion system (EPS) is better suited for such missions. The propellantworking medium in an electric propulsion system is ionized gas, which is accelerated in a magnetic field. Due to the low consumption of the working mediumpropellant, the EPS is able to work for a very long time.

"Because of the low thrust levels of EPS, it can be used most effectively only at sufficiently large distances from the attracting objects (planets or massive satellitesmoons), i.e., in interplanetary flights", — the study's author, RUDN University mathematician Alexey Ivanyukhin explains.

According to him, in the case of the use of EPS in the vicinity of a massive body, the available jet acceleration can be extremely low in relation to the gravitational acceleration — at the level of 10−5-10−4. But on interplanetary trajectories, the level of jet acceleration of the EPS is not much inferior to the Sun’s gravity, and their ratio can be 10−2-10−1.

Alexey Ivanyukhin reminded that for the exploration of the Solar System at the turn of the century EPS have been used as sustainerprimary propulsion system. The first such spacecrafts were Deep Space 1 (passage of an asteroid and two comets fly-by), Smart-1 (enter lunar orbit insertion), Hayabusa (delivery of soil samples from the asteroid Itokawa), Dawn (consecutive flight to the asteroids Vesta and Ceres).

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The main goal of the RUDN University and UNISDR Office for Northeast Asia and Global Education and Training Institute for Disaster Risk Reduction at Incheon (UNISDR ONEA-GETI) cooperation is to obtain knowledge about disaster risk reduction and international experience in this area for creating training courses for basic and additional professional education in RUDN
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Every year, RUDN University selects the best of the best in the field of science and innovation and encourages with a special reward. Since 2009, the Academic Council of the University has been awarding one reward in natural and technical sciences and the other one in social and humanitarian sciences. Both individual researchers and groups of authors can become laureates.

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