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Rendezvous Missions to Temporarily-Captured Near Earth Asteroids

Abstract : Missions to rendezvous with or capture an asteroid present significant interest both from a geophysical and safety point of view. They are key to the understanding of our solar system and are stepping stones for interplanetary human flight. In this paper, we focus on a rendezvous mission with 2006 RH 120 , an asteroid classified as a Temporarily Captured Orbiter (TCO). TCOs form a new population of near Earth objects presenting many advantages toward that goal. Prior to the mission, we consider the spacecraft hibernating on a Halo orbit around the Earth-Moon's L 2 libration point. The objective is to design a transfer for the spacecraft from the parking orbit to rendezvous with 2006 RH 120 while minimizing the fuel consumption. Our transfers use indirect methods, based on the Pontryagin Maximum Principle, combined with continuation techniques and a direct method to address the sensitivity of the initialization. We demonstrate that a rendezvous mission with 2006 RH 120 can be accomplished with low delta-v. This exploratory work can be seen as a first step to identify good candidates for a rendezvous on a given TCO trajectory.
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S Brelsford, Monique Chyba, T Haberkorn, G Patterson. Rendezvous Missions to Temporarily-Captured Near Earth Asteroids. Planetary and Space Science, Elsevier, 2016, ⟨10.1016/j.pss.2015.12.013⟩. ⟨hal-01250117⟩

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