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BepiColombo: Navigation Challenges on the Way to Mercury

BepiColombo: Navigation Challenges on the Way to Mercury

Publication date: 03 July 2006

Authors: García Yárnoz, D. et al.

Page: 422-427
Year: 2006

Copyright: JSASS and ISTS

BepiColombo is the name of an ESA cornerstone mission to Mercury with a launch scheduled for 2013. After a journey of 6 years, two probes, the Magnetospheric Orbiter (JAXA) and the Planetary Orbiter (ESA), will reach their target orbits. The interplanetary trajectory includes multiple planetary flybys as well as several low-thrust arcs provided by the solar electric propulsion module. The navigation analysis of such a trajectory requires the implementation of complex guidance laws for the low thrust arcs, and the inclusion of trim manoeuvres near each planet encounter. Further challenges are imposed by the occurrence of solar conjunctions, noise introduced by the thrust, limited range and Doppler availability, stringent solar aspect angle constraints, and the definition of recovery solutions in case of thrust outages. A baseline trajectory taking into account all these operational constraints is here presented. The software tools LOTNAV and INTNAV were used to perfom a navigation analysis for the interplanetary trajectory.

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