Roscoe, Christopher (2012-12). Satellite Formation Design in Orbits of High Eccentricity for Missions with Performance Criteria Specified over a Region of Interest. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • Several methods are presented for the design of satellite formations for science missions in high-eccentricity reference orbits with quantifiable performance criteria specified throughout only a portion the orbit, called the Region of Interest (RoI). A modified form of the traditional average along-track drift minimization condition is introduced to account for the fact that performance criteria are only specified within the RoI, and a robust formation design algorithm (FDA) is defined to improve performance in the presence of formation initialization errors. Initial differential mean orbital elements are taken as the design variables and the Gim-Alfriend state transition matrix (G-A STM) is used for relative motion propagation. Using mean elements and the G-A STM allows for explicit inclusion of J2 perturbation effects in the design process. The methods are applied to the complete formation design problem of the NASA Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission and results are verified using the NASA General Mission Analysis Tool (GMAT). Since satellite formations in high-eccentricity orbits will spend long times at high altitude, third-body perturbations are an important design consideration as well. A detailed analytical analysis of third-body perturbation effects on satellite formations is also performed and averaged dynamics are derived for the particular case of the lunar perturbation. Numerical results of the lunar perturbation analysis are obtained for the example application of the MMS mission and verified in GMAT.

publication date

  • December 2012