Study of Earth-to-Mars transfers with low-thrust propulsion
Tutor / director / evaluatorFantino, Elena
Document typeMaster thesis (pre-Bologna period)
Rights accessOpen Access
Knowledge and investigation about low-thrust propulsion systems have been increasing during the last years and some spacecrafts employing this technology have succeeded in their objectives, which contribute to the possible selection of low-thrust technology for future space missions. Missions to Mars, which are currently being propelled by chemical engines, are subject of study in this field for future exploration missions to the planet. This project presents a code that computes a transfer from Earth to Mars using low-thrust electric propulsion. This code is analysed and later employed to perform a study of different transfers by varying the parameters of the simulation. The study includes the analysis of the performance of electrical engines (both existing or under development) that have been used in the simulations of the transfer trajectory. The results of the best transfers in terms of minimum flight time and fuel mass consumed are presented and discussed. The study shows that the main advantage of selecting low-thrust propulsions systems are the savings in propellant mass, with the corresponding increase in the mass of payload that can be delivered to Mars. This makes the mission even more interesting from the point of view of the scientific objectives, especially those implying the delivery of equipment to the surface. On the other hand, the drawback is represented by the higher transfer times, even of some years, than those implied by the adoption of chemical engines. However, this study also shows that as the thruster characteristics of the electrical engines increase in performance, such shortcoming becomes less significant.
SubjectsSpace vehicles--Propulsion systems, Space flight--Computer simulation, Sistemes de propulsió, Vehicles espacials -- Propulsió
ProvenanceAquest document conté originàriament altre material i/o programari no inclòs en aquest lloc web.