Design of Low-Thrust Multi-Gravity Assist Trajectories to Europa

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M. Vasile; S. Campagnola (2009), JBIS, 62, 15-31

Refcode: 2009.62.15
Keywords: Finite elements in time, trajectory optimisation, low-thrust multigravity assist trajectories, direct transcription methods, global optimisation methods

This paper presents the design of a mission to Europa using solar electric propulsion as main source of thrust. A direct transcription method based on Finite Elements in Time was used for the design and optimisation of the entire low-thrust gravity assist transfer from the Earth to Europa. Prior to that, a global search algorithm was used to generate a set of suitable first guess solutions for the transfer to Jupiter, and for the capture in the Jovian system. In particular, a fast deterministic search algorithm was developed to find the most promising set of swing-bys to reach Jupiter. A second fast search algorithm was developed to find the best sequence of swing-bys of the Jovian moons. After introducing the global search algorithms and the direct transcription through Finite Elements in Time, the paper presents a number of first guess solutions and a fully optimised transfer from the Earth to Europa.

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