Identification of New Orbits to Enable Future Missions for the Exploration of the Martian Moon Phobos

Conference paper
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Proceedings book series (ASSSP, volume 44)


One of the paramount stepping stones towards NASA’s long-term goal of undertaking human missions to Mars is the exploration of the Martian moons. In this paper, a showcase of various classes of non-Keplerian orbits are identified and a number of potential mission applications in the Mars-Phobos system are proposed. These applications include: low-thrust hovering around Phobos for close-range observations; Libration Point Orbits in enhanced three-body dynamics to enable unique low-cost operations for space missions in the proximity of Phobos; their manifold structure for high-performance landing/take-off maneuvers to and from Phobos’ surface; Quasi-Satellite Orbits for long-period station-keeping and maintenance. In particular, these orbits could exploit Phobos’ occulting bulk as a passive radiation shield during future manned flights to Mars to reduce human exposure to radiation. Moreover, the latter orbits can be used as an orbital garage, requiring no orbital maintenance, where a spacecraft could make planned pit-stops during a round-trip mission to Mars.


Gravity Field Solar Energetic Particle Event Formation Flying Orbital Perturbation Libration Point Orbit 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Advanced Space Concepts LaboratoryUniversity of StrathclydeGlasgowUK

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