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Cycler Orbits and the Solar System Pony Express

Sanchez Net, Marc and Pellegrini, Etienne and Vander Hook, Joshua (2020) Cycler Orbits and the Solar System Pony Express. In: 2020 IEEE Aerospace Conference. IEEE , Piscataway, NJ, pp. 1-10. ISBN 978-1-7281-2734-7.

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In this work, we explore the concept of a secondary “data mule” consisting of a small satellite used to ferry data from a Mars mission to Earth for downlink. The concept exploits the fact that two nearby optical communicators can achieve extremely high data rates, and that a class of trajectories called “cyclers” can carry a satellite between Mars and Earth regularly. By exploiting cycler orbits, the courier needs minimal onboard propulsion. However, cycler orbits have long periodicity, as it can take years for the satellite, Mars, and Earth to repeat their relative geometry. Therefore, we propose the use of a network of such cycler “couriers” on phase-shifted trajectories to achieve a regular cadence of downlink trips. We design a series of search and optimization steps that can output a set of trajectories that at first approximation have low onboard propulsion requirements and can be used for any regular logistics network to and from Mars, then derive the link budget for proximity optical communications to show that this network can ferry large amounts of data.

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Alternate Title:Data Mules on Cycler Orbits for High-Latency, Planetary-Scale Data Transfers
Additional Information:© 2020 IEEE. Copyright 2020, California Institute of Technology. Government sponsorship acknowledged. The research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The authors would like to thank Dr. Damon Landau of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for his invaluable help in using his software, Star. Also, the authors would like to thankWilson Parker, of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, for his in-depth knowledge and help on spacecraft memory technologies.
Group:Keck Institute for Space Studies
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Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200908-132024675
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Official Citation:M. S. Net, E. Pellegrini and J. V. Hook, "Cycler Orbits and the Solar System Pony Express," 2020 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT, USA, 2020, pp. 1-10, doi: 10.1109/AERO47225.2020.9172342
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:105270
Deposited By: Iryna Chatila
Deposited On:08 Sep 2020 23:44
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 18:41

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