Investigating suitable orbits for the Swarm constellation mission - The frozen orbit

Kyoung Min Roh, Hermann Luehr, Markus Rothacher, Sang Young Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


This paper proposes a suitable orbit design for the lower pair of ESA's Swarm constellation mission, flying side-by-side in near-polar and circular orbits with a separation of only 1.4° at ascending node. Both orbits are suggested to be frozen orbits to minimize the evolution, and an along-track separation strategy is applied to avoid collision risk. The characteristics of the proposed orbit type are examined through numerical techniques including high-fidelity perturbation models. The prime change from the initial configuration is an along-track separation. The perturbations causing the along-track drift are analyzed by switching on/off certain perturbations. The results indicate that the tesseral harmonics and the atmospheric drag yield dominant effects. The atmospheric drag effect shows a dependence on the local time of the ascending node. From two months of orbit propagation for the altitude 300 km the maximum along-track drift we obtain is about 80 km, which is still within the measurement requirement range. Several maneuver strategies for maintaining the proposed orbit design are suggested. The results analyzed for the proposed orbit design show that collision risk can be avoided by along-track separation within the frozen orbit design. Consequently, this combination is considered as a suitable approach for Swarm's lower pair.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-58
Number of pages10
JournalAerospace Science and Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Jan

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Two of the authors (K.-M. Roh and S.-Y. Park) are supported by the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation (KOSEF) through the National Research Lab. Program funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology (No. M10600000282-06J0000-28210).

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering


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