Whenever I drink too much coffee, I think about orbits. Either I need something stronger, or decaf.
I was looking at http://cristianopi.altervista.org/as/ and selected the Juno probe.
One of the graphs shows Juno approaching Jupiter from the “Sun” side, then “backing” into the eventual orbit. I think I heard that some Mars probes have done that too, rather than approaching from the “outer” side and going head-first directly into the eventual orbit.
This is a fun detail to think about, and the whole topic of orbits could probably take up 30 TMRO:Space episodes. So instead of that, just a few questions for discussion:
- Q1) What are the trade-offs in using either approach method? Direct orbit entry verses “backing” into the orbit.
- Q2) Could an approaching probe/capsule/lander even optimize the backing" maneuver so as to meet the planet at almost no (or minimum) relative velocity, hence reducing the heat-shield requirement needed to enter the atmosphere?
- Q3) The “backing” maneuver seems to be used when approaching an outer planet from an inner planet (eg: probe is going from Earth to Mars). What are the issues in a probe/capsule returning to an inner planet (eg: Mars to Earth)?
- Q4) I wonder if they will shift BFS into reverse to slide in backwards like this? Or just dive in head-first?
Image from the referenced site showing Juno approaching Jupiter is attached: “Sun”-side is to the right. You can see Juno (green color) approaches, slows, and “backs” into Jupiter to be captured.