Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Orbital mechanics awesomeness (updated)

This is an illustration of the ARTEMIS-P1 libration orbits. The ARTEMIS (Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun) mission uses two of the five in-orbit THEMIS spacecraft that completed their mission earlier this year. ARTEMIS-P1 is the first spacecraft to navigate to, and perform stationkeeping operations around, the Earth-Moon L1 and L2 Lagrangian points. Unlike Earth orbits which are stable systems, maintaining the orbits around L1/L2 will require constant monitoring and corrections. Space fellowship has a good article with more mission details.

It just struck me that this looks a bit like the plot of a Lorenz Attractor. (plot via Wikipedia)