Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy

, Volume 98, Issue 4, pp 251–283

The theory of canonical perturbations applied to attitude dynamics and to the Earth rotation. Osculating and nonosculating Andoyer variables

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10569-007-9080-y

Cite this article as:
Efroimsky, M. & Escapa, A. Celestial Mech Dyn Astr (2007) 98: 251. doi:10.1007/s10569-007-9080-y


In the method of variation of parameters we express the Cartesian coordinates or the Euler angles as functions of the time and six constants. If, under disturbance, we endow the “constants” with time dependence, the perturbed orbital or angular velocity will consist of a partial time derivative and a convective term that includes time derivatives of the “constants”. The Lagrange constraint, often imposed for convenience, nullifies the convective term and thereby guarantees that the functional dependence of the velocity on the time and “constants” stays unaltered under disturbance. “Constants” satisfying this constraint are called osculating elements. Otherwise, they are simply termed orbital or rotational elements. When the equations for the elements are required to be canonical, it is normally the Delaunay variables that are chosen to be the orbital elements, and it is the Andoyer variables that are typically chosen to play the role of rotational elements. (Since some of the Andoyer elements are time-dependent even in the unperturbed setting, the role of “constants” is actually played by their initial values.) The Delaunay and Andoyer sets of variables share a subtle peculiarity: under certain circumstances the standard equations render the elements nonosculating. In the theory of orbits, the planetary equations yield nonosculating elements when perturbations depend on velocities. To keep the elements osculating, the equations must be amended with extra terms that are not parts of the disturbing function [Efroimsky, M., Goldreich, P.: J. Math. Phys. 44, 5958–5977 (2003); Astron. Astrophys. 415, 1187–1199 (2004); Efroimsky, M.: Celest. Mech. Dyn. Astron. 91, 75–108 (2005); Ann. New York Acad. Sci. 1065, 346–374 (2006)]. It complicates both the Lagrange- and Delaunay-type planetary equations and makes the Delaunay equations noncanonical. In attitude dynamics, whenever a perturbation depends upon the angular velocity (like a switch to a noninertial frame), a mere amendment of the Hamiltonian makes the equations yield nonosculating Andoyer elements. To make them osculating, extra terms should be added to the equations (but then the equations will no longer be canonical). Calculations in nonosculating variables are mathematically valid, but their physical interpretation is not easy. Nonosculating orbital elements parameterise instantaneous conics not tangent to the orbit. (A nonosculating i may differ much from the real inclination of the orbit, given by the osculating i.) Nonosculating Andoyer elements correctly describe perturbed attitude, but their interconnection with the angular velocity is a nontrivial issue. The Kinoshita–Souchay theory tacitly employs nonosculating Andoyer elements. For this reason, even though the elements are introduced in a precessing frame, they nevertheless return the inertial velocity, not the velocity relative to the precessing frame. To amend the Kinoshita–Souchay theory, we derive the precessing-frame-related directional angles of the angular velocity relative to the precessing frame. The loss of osculation should not necessarily be considered a flaw of the Kinoshita–Souchay theory, because in some situations it is the inertial, not the relative, angular velocity that is measurable [Schreiber, K. U. et al.: J. Geophys. Res. 109, B06405 (2004); Petrov, L.: Astron. Astrophys. 467, 359–369 (2007)]. Under these circumstances, the Kinoshita–Souchay formulae for the angular velocity should be employed (as long as they are rightly identified as the formulae for the inertial angular velocity).


Earth rotation Attitude mechanics Attitude dynamics Kinoshita theory of the Earth rotation Kinoshita–Souchay theory of the Earth rotation Hamiltonian theory of the Earth rotation Andoyer variables Andoyer elemets Osculation Nonosculation Canonical perturbation theory Rigid-body rotation Right-body dynamics Rigid-body mechanics Poinsot problem Euler–Poinsot problem 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.US Naval ObservatoryWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Departamento de Matemática AplicadaUniversidad de AlicanteAlicanteSpain

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