Tether capture of spacecraft at Neptune

Sanmartín Losada, Juan Ramón and Peláez Álvarez, Jesús (2020). Tether capture of spacecraft at Neptune. "Acta Astronáutica", v. 177 ; pp. 906-911. ISSN 0094-5765. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actaastro.2020.03.024.


Title: Tether capture of spacecraft at Neptune
  • Sanmartín Losada, Juan Ramón
  • Peláez Álvarez, Jesús
Item Type: Article
Título de Revista/Publicación: Acta Astronáutica
Date: December 2020
ISSN: 0094-5765
Volume: 177
Freetext Keywords: Outer giants, icy moons, electrodynamic tethers, magnetic capture
Faculty: E.T.S. de Ingeniería Aeronáutica y del Espacio (UPM)
Department: Física Aplicada a las Ingenierías Aeronáutica y Naval
Creative Commons Licenses: Recognition - No derivative works - Non commercial

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Past planetary missions have been broad and detailed for Gas Giants, compared to flyby missions for Ice Giants. Presently, a mission to Neptune using electrodynamic tethers is under consideration due to the ability of tethers to provide free propulsion and power for orbital insertion as well as additional exploratory maneuvering — providing more mission capability than a standard orbiter mission. Tether operation depends on plasma density and magnetic field , though tethers can deal with ill-defined density profiles, with the anodic segment self-adjusting to accommodate densities. Planetary magnetic fields are due to currents in some small volume inside the planet, magnetic-moment vector, and typically a dipole law approximation, which describes the field outside. When compared with Saturn and Jupiter, the Neptunian magnetic structure is significantly more complex: the dipole is located below the equatorial plane, is highly offset from the planet center, and at large tilt with its rotation axis. Lorentz-drag work decreases quickly with distance, thus requiring spacecraft periapsis at capture close to the planet and allowing the large offset to make capture efficiency (spacecraft-to-tether mass ratio) well above a no-offset case. The S/C might optimally reach periapsis when crossing the meridian plane of the dipole, with the S/C facing it; this convenient synchronism is eased by Neptune rotating little during capture. Calculations yield maximum efficiency of approximately 12, whereas a meridian error would reduce efficiency by about 6%. Efficiency results suggest new calculations should be made to fully include Neptunian rotation and consider detailed dipole and quadrupole corrections.

More information

Item ID: 65999
DC Identifier: https://oa.upm.es/65999/
OAI Identifier: oai:oa.upm.es:65999
DOI: 10.1016/j.actaastro.2020.03.024
Official URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0094576520301521
Deposited by: Biblioteca ETSI Aeronauticos
Deposited on: 02 Feb 2021 10:20
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2021 10:20
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