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Potholes on the Interplanetary Superhighway.

5 Apr 2015, 21:34 UTC
Potholes on the Interplanetary Superhighway.
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Wikipedia describes the Interplanetary Transport Network is billed as "… pathways through the Solar System that require very little energy for an object to follow." See this Wikipedia article. They also say "While they use very little energy, the transport can take a very long time."Low energy paths that take a very long time? I often hear this parroted in space exploration forums and it always leaves me scratching my head.The lowest energy path I know of is the Hohmann orbit. Or if the destination is noticeably elliptical, a transfer orbit that is tangent to both the departure and destination orbit. Although I think of bitangential transfer orbits as a more general version of the Hohmann orbit.Bitangential Transfer OrbitThe transfer orbit is tangent to both departure and destination orbit.The Hohmann transfer is the special case where departure and destination orbits are circular.Illustration from my pdf on tangent orbits.In the case of Mars, a bitangential orbit is 8.5 months give or take a month or two. Is there a path that takes a lot longer and uses almost no energy? I know of no such path.L1 and L2The interplanetary Superhighway supposedly relies on weak stability or weak instability boundaries between L1 ...

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