Distant retrograde orbits and the asteroid hazard

  • Ettore PerozziEmail author
  • Marta Ceccaroni
  • Giovanni B. Valsecchi
  • Alessandro Rossi
Regular Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Focus Point on Highlights of Planetary Science in Italy


Distant Retrograde Orbits (DROs) gained a novel wave of fame in space mission design because of their numerous advantages within the framework of the US plans for bringing a large asteroid sample in the vicinity of the Earth as the next target for human exploration. DROs are stable solutions of the three-body problem that can be used whenever an object, whether of natural or artificial nature, is required to remain in the neighborhood of a celestial body without being gravitationally captured by it. As such, they represent an alternative option to Halo orbits around the collinear Lagrangian points L1 and L2. Also known under other names (e.g., quasi-satellite orbits, cis-lunar orbits, family-f orbits) these orbital configurations found interesting applications in several mission profiles, like that of a spacecraft orbiting around the small irregularly shaped satellite of Mars Phobos or the large Jovian moon Europa. In this paper a basic explanation of the DRO dynamics is presented in order to clarify some geometrical properties that characterize them. Their accessibility is then discussed from the point of view of mission analysis under different assumptions. Finally, their relevance within the framework of the present asteroid hazard protection programs is shown, stressing the significant increase in warning time they would provide in the prediction of impactors coming from the direction of the Sun.


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Copyright information

© Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ettore Perozzi
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Marta Ceccaroni
    • 2
    • 4
  • Giovanni B. Valsecchi
    • 3
    • 5
  • Alessandro Rossi
    • 5
  1. 1.Agenzia Spaziale ItalianaRomaItaly
  2. 2.ESA NEO Coordination Centre, ESRINFrascatiItaly
  3. 3.IAPS-INAFRomaItaly
  4. 4.Space Dynamics Services SrlNavacchioItaly
  5. 5.IFAC-CNRSesto FiorentinoItaly

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