Sun-perturbed dynamics of a particle in the vicinity of the Earth-Moon triangular libration points
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This study focuses on the Sun's influence on the motion near the triangular libration points of the Earth-Moon system. It is known that there exists a very strong resonant perturbation near those points that produces large deviations from the libration points, with an amplitude of about 250,000 km and a period of 1,500 days. However, it has been shown that it is possible to find initial conditions that negate the effects of that perturbation, even resulting in stable, although very large, periodic orbits. Using two different models, the goal of this research is to determine the initial configurations of the Earth-Moon-Sun system that produce minimal deviations from the libration points, and to provide a better understanding of the dynamics of this highly nonlinear problem. First, the Bicircular Problem (BCP) is considered, which is an idealized model of the Earth-Moon-Sun System. The impact of the initial configuration of the Earth-Moon-Sun system is studied for various propagation times and it is found that there exist two initial configurations that produce minimal deviations from L₄ or L₅. The resulting trajectories are very sensitive to the initial configuration, as the mean deviation from the libration points can decrease by 30,000 km with less than a degree change in the initial configuration. Two critical initial configurations of the system were identified that could allow a particle to remain within 30,000 km of the libration points for as long as desired. A more realistic model, based on JPL ephemerides, is also used, and the influence of the initial epoch on the motion near the triangular points is studied. Through the year 2007, 51 epochs are found that produce apparently stable librational motion near L₄, and 60 near L₅. But the motion observed depends greatly on the initial epoch. Some epochs are even found to significantly reduce the deviation from L₄ and L₅, with the spacecraft remaining within at most 90,000 km from the triangular points for upwards of 3,000 days. Similarly to what was observed in the BCP, these trajectories are found to be extremely sensitive to the initial epoch.