Mars missions using solar electric propulsion

Steven N. Williams, Victoria Coverstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Successful demonstration of solar electric propulsion on the Deep Space 1 technology demonstration mission has paved the way for the use of this technology on future planetary missions. Currently there is much interest in retrieving Mars surface samples for scientific exploration, as well as developing the technology to enable human missions to Mars sometime in the next few decades. Solar electric propulsion trajectories for Mars opportunities in the 2004-2011 time frame are examined. All of the trajectories shown were optimized with a gradient based calculus-of-variations tool. In addition, a genetic algorithm was used to search for more nonstandard trajectories. Mission performance is presented as burnout mass along contours of constant flight time. The superior specific impulse of these propulsion systems results in a larger delivered mass at Mars than a conventional chemical mission. A very curious feature of these missions is that for longer flight times solutions exist that permit a nearly continuous launch opportunity over an entire Earth-Mars synodic period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-77
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Spacecraft and Rockets
Volume37
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000
Externally publishedYes

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solar electric propulsion
Mars missions
Electric propulsion
Mars
Trajectories
mars
Demonstrations
trajectory
flight time
trajectories
Mars surface samples
Propulsion
flight
Genetic algorithms
Earth (planet)
burnout
specific impulse
calculus of variations
deep space
genetic algorithm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

Mars missions using solar electric propulsion. / Williams, Steven N.; Coverstone, Victoria.

In: Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, Vol. 37, No. 1, 01.01.2000, p. 71-77.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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