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Published March 2009 | Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Lagrangian coherent structures in the planar elliptic restricted three-body problem


This study investigates Lagrangian coherent structures (LCS) in the planar elliptic restricted three-body problem (ER3BP), a generalization of the circular restricted three-body problem (CR3BP) that asks for the motion of a test particle in the presence of two elliptically orbiting point masses. Previous studies demonstrate that an understanding of transport phenomena in the CR3BP, an autonomous dynamical system (when viewed in a rotating frame), can be obtained through analysis of the stable and unstable manifolds of certain periodic solutions to the CR3BP equations of motion. These invariant manifolds form cylindrical tubes within surfaces of constant energy that act as separatrices between orbits with qualitatively different behaviors. The computation of LCS, a technique typically applied to fluid flows to identify transport barriers in the domains of time-dependent velocity fields, provides a convenient means of determining the time-dependent analogues of these invariant manifolds for the ER3BP, whose equations of motion contain an explicit dependency on the independent variable. As a direct application, this study uncovers the contribution of the planet Mercury to the Interplanetary Transport Network, a network of tubes through the solar system that can be exploited for the construction of low-fuel spacecraft mission trajectories.

Additional Information

© 2009 Springer. Received: 14 May 2008; revised: 22 October 2008; accepted: 15 December 2008; published online: 30 January 2009. The authors would like to thank Michael Dellnitz, Wang-Sang Koon, Martin Lo, and Shane Ross for their helpful remarks, interest, and collaboration over the years.

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