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Asia Pacific Journal of Engineering Science and Technology 1 (1) (2015) 48-58

Asia Pacific Journal of Engineering Science and Technology


journal homepage: www.apjest.com

Full length article

Flattening effects of the Moon and the Earth on predicting shadow events of a
lunar orbiting spacecraft
Shivali Kulshrestha*
Department of Electrical Engineering, M.B.M. Engineering College, J.N.V. University, Jodhpur-342001,
India
(Received: 24 December 2015; accepted 29 December 2015; published online 30 December 2015)

ABSTRACT
In this paper, we describe the line of intersection model for predicting shadow eclipses
due to the Moon and the Earth for any lunar orbiting spacecraft. Both spherical and non-spherical
shapes of the Moon and the Earth are accounted in the model in order to show the effect of
oblateness of both celestial bodies on predicting shadow eclipses. On a lunar orbiting spacecraft,
shadow eclipses due to the Moon occurs frequently whereas eclipses due to the Earth is not
regular and number of its occurrence per orbital location varies with an average of two per year.
These Earth shadow eclipses on a lunar orbiter mission can cause severe operational problems.
This study provides significant insights beneficial to a mission designer, planner and operation.
Keywords: Lunar orbiting spacecraft; line of intersection method; flattening effect; shadow events

1. Introduction
A lunar shadow eclipse occurs when the Sun, the Earth and the Moon are aligned in such
a way that shadow of the Earth falls on the Moon (refer Fig. 1). The Earth shadow eclipse also
falls on the lunar orbiting spacecraft and usually it happens near the full Moon. These eclipses
do not occur in a regular manner as does the Moon shadow eclipse on a lunar orbiting spacecraft.
It can happen any time and can occur twice in the same orbital revolution. Similar to the Earth
shadow eclipses of any Earth orbiting spacecraft [1-9], the Earth (Moon) shadow eclipses on a
lunar orbiting spacecraft can be classified as either an Earth (Moon) umbra or penumbra. On a
lunar orbiting spacecraft, the occurrence of umbra and penumbra eclipses is rare due to the Earth
and if it occurs the duration is very large contrary to the lunar umbra and penumbra for any Earth
*

E-mail address: shivali.kulshrestha@gmail.com

2015 Author(s)

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Asia Pacific J. Eng. Sci. Tech. 1 (1) (2015) 48-58

orbiting spacecraft [9]. Due to large Earth shadow eclipse duration, several spacecraft subsystems of a lunar orbiting spacecraft can be affected, especially spacecraft thermal reliability
and the power subsystem. A basic difference between the Earth shadow eclipse and the Moon
shadow eclipse of a lunar orbiting spacecraft is that the second one involves shadow of the Moon
which is the central body for the lunar orbiter and occurs very frequently whereas the first one is
not shadow of the Moon and on average one to three times it occurs on the lunar orbiter in a
year. Unlike the duration of the lunar shadow eclipse of the lunar orbiter, the Earth shadow
eclipse duration lasts for hours.
In [6-10], authors simulated and compared the line of intersection model and other
existing conical shadow models due to the Earth and the Moon for the Earth orbiting spacecraft
and also for the interplanetary mission to the red planet Mars. They found that results obtained
by the line of intersection model accounting the spherical shape provides the same results with
other existing conical shadow models whereas accounting the oblate shape it gives better results
than other existing models for the Earth shadow eclipses of the Earth orbiting spacecraft [8].
Further, the results of the line of intersection model accounting the oblate shape are found very
close to commercial software package, Systems Tool Kit (STK) of Analytic Graphic Inc. (AGI).
For the lunar shadow eclipses of the Earth orbiter, it was found that the spherical projection
model and the line of intersection model accounting both spherical and non-spherical shapes of
the Moon produced almost equivalent results for both LEO and GEO spacecraft [9]. In case of
the Mars orbiter mission, the first interplanetary mission of India to Mars, it was noticed that all
existing conical shadow models produced the same results [10].
It can be noticed that in every stage of a space mission, the shadow analysis yields an
important part for sizing of the solar panels, batteries, and power management etc. This paper
describes a mathematical model based on the line of intersection method to predict shadow
eclipses due to the Moon and the Earth for any lunar orbiting spacecraft. The model is simulated
on a typical trajectory of a polar circular lunar orbiting spacecraft accounting flattening effects of
the Moon as well as the Earth. The paper is organized as follows: in Section 2, we describe the
line of intersection method for the lunar orbiter; Section 3 provides results and discussion while
Section 4 concludes this study.

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Asia Pacific J. Eng. Sci. Tech. 1 (1) (2015) 48-58

Fig. 1. Lunar eclipse geometry (courtesy http://www.zullophoto.com/).

2. Mathematical Model
In this section, we describe the line of intersection conical shadow model [5, 6, 7, 9, 10,
11] briefly for predicting shadow eclipses due to the Moon and the Earth for any lunar orbiting
spacecraft. Let a m , r m and rm represent the lunar spacecraft (S/C), the Sun and the Earth position
vectors from the seleno-center, respectively. The magnitude rm gives the distance between the
Earth and the Moon. Further, let a e and r e denote the geocentric position vectors of the S/C and
the Sun, it can then be expressed as
a e a m rm

.
e
m
m
r r r

(1)

2.1 Lunar shadow eclipse prediction


In this section, we describe the line of intersection method to predict shadow eclipses due
to the Moon occurring on a lunar orbiting spacecraft (refer Fig. 2). Note that Fig. 2 is
exaggerated for the sake of clarity. Approximating the lunar surface as a spheroid

2
m

ym2

R2 e

zm2
1,
R2 p

(2)

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where xm , ym , zm are the coordinates of any point on the lunar surface, R e and R p are the
equatorial and polar radius of the Moon, respectively. Notice that when Re R p , Eq. (2)
reduces to the spherical lunar surface.
Line 1 (Line 2) represents the line passing through the lunar S/C to the Sun-edge 1 (Sunedge 2). Sun-edge 1 to S/C vector, and Sun-edge 2 to S/C vector are denoted by b m and c m ,
respectively.
Any point xm , ym , zm on Line 1 and Line 2 satisfies
xm a1m ym a2m zm a3m

,
b1m
b2m
b3m

(3)

and
xm a1m ym a2m zm a3m

,
c1m
c2m
c3m

(4)

respectively, where a1m , a2m , a3m , b1m , b2m , b3m and c1m , c2m , c3m are the components of a m , b m and

c m , respectively.
Assume that the vectors rs1m and rsm2 define the lines from the seleno-center to the Sun-edge
1 and 2, respectively. To evaluate the vectors b m and c m , coordinates of the Sun-edges are
required. Let the vector r m represents the Sun position vector from the seleno-center. The vector
S mp , which is the unit vector orthogonal to r m lying in the plane defined by the seleno-center, the

Sun, and the S/C, is used to find these Sun-edges. The vector S mp is expressed as
m
m
m
Sm Sp r ri , where r m r m a m .
p
i
r m ri m
S mp

(5)

Thus, the Sun-edge points can be expressed as


rs1m r m R S pm
.
rsm2 r m R S mp

(6)

Hence, the vectors b m and c m in the seleno-centric frame are given by

b m a m rs1m

(7)
.
m
m
m
c a rs 2

Combining Eqs. (2) and (3), the following relation can be found for the intersection between the
lunar surface and Line 1
2

2
m

2
p

x R

bm

bm

2m xm a1m a2m R2 p 3m xm a1m a3m R2 e R2 e R2 p .


b1

b1

Eq. (8) can be written in the form

(8)

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Asia Pacific J. Eng. Sci. Tech. 1 (1) (2015) 48-58

m
2
m
m
ALine
1 xm BLine1 xm CLine1 0.

(9)

Similarly, the intersection of lunar surface and Line 2 gives


m
2
m
m
ALine
2 xm BLine 2 xm CLine 2 0.

(10)

When the condition

B 4A
B 4A

CLine
1 0, Line 1
(11)

2
m
m
m

0,
Line
2
Line 2
Line 2 Line 2

is satisfied, an intersection occurs. If the distance between the point of intersection and the Sun is
less than the distance between the Sun and the Moon, S/C is not in the Moon shadow eclipse.
Otherwise, if both lines interest the lunar surface, S/C is in the Moon umbra; if only one line
intersects the lunar surface, S/C is in the Moon penumbra else it is not in the Moon shadow
eclipse.
m
Line1

m
Line1

2.2 Earth shadow eclipse prediction


Now, we describe the line of intersection method to predict shadow eclipses due to the
Earth occurring on any lunar orbiter mission. Such type of eclipse events occur almost twice or
thrice in a year. Approximating surface of the Earth as a spheroid

2
e

ye2

R2 e

ze2
1,
R2 p

(12)

where xe , ye , ze are the coordinates of any point on the Earths surface, R e and R p are the
equatorial and polar radius of the Earth, respectively. Notice that when Re R p , Eq. (12)
reduces to spherical surface of the Earth. For the Earth shadow eclipse prediction, we take

a , a , a as the components of the lunar S/C position vector a . Let b , b , b denote the
components of the vector b from the Sun-edge 1 to the S/C and c , c , c as the components of
e
1

e
2

e
3

e
1

e
1

e
2

e
2

e
3

e
3

the vector c e from the Sun-edge 2 to the S/C in the geocentric frame.
Any point xe , ye , ze on Line 1 satisfies
xe a1e ye a2e ze a3e

.
b1e
b2e
b3e

(13)

Similarly, any point xe , ye , ze on Line 2 satisfies the relation


xe a1e ye a2e ze a3e

.
c1e
c2e
c3e

(14)

Now assume that the vectors rs1e and rse2 define the lines from the geo-center to the Sunedge 1 and 2, respectively. Rest of the formulation is similar to Section 2.1. When the distance
between the point of intersection and the Sun is less than the distance between the Sun and the

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Earth, S/C is not in the Earth shadow eclipse. Otherwise, if both lines interest surface of the
Earth, S/C is in the Earth umbra; if only one line intersects the Earths surface, S/C is in the
Earth penumbra else it is not in the Earth shadow eclipse.

Fig. 2: Shadow eclipse prediction of a lunar orbiter mission using a line of intersection method.

3. Results and discussion


The mathematical model discussed in Section 2 predicts when a lunar orbiting spacecraft
is in the eclipse shadow (umbra/penumbra) of the Moon and the Earth using the Sun vector r m ,
the Earth vector rm , and the spacecraft vector a m in the seleno-centric frame. The model is
simulated for a typical trajectory of a fictitious polar circular lunar orbiting spacecraft of altitudes
100 km, 200 km, and 300 km, respectively with inclination 90 degree, right ascension of
ascending node, argument of perigee and true anomaly each having zero degree. State vectors of
the spacecraft, in the seleno-centric J2000 reference frame, were generated using two body
motion of the spacecraft before two days starting 00:00:00.000 UTCG at 1 sec interval. In this
study, we have considered two-body equations of motion since our aim is to analyze the effect of
oblateness due to the Moon and the Earth for predicting shadow eclipses for the lunar orbiter.
The Sun and the Earth state vectors were taken from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory planetary
ephemerides DE421. We found the line of intersection method with spherical shape and other
existing spherical conical shadow models [1, 2, 3, 7, 8] provide the same results for the lunar
orbiter. We also found that the result obtained by STK and the line of intersection model with
non-spherical shape are the same using the two body propagator. Therefore, we have chosen two

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categories of the line of intersection model, namely, accounting spherical and non-spherical
shapes of the Moon and the Earth, respectively.
The flattening effects of the Moon and the Earth on the lunar orbiting spacecraft are
carried out from the year 2015 to 2025; however, here we have chosen only three different cases
as 28/Sep/2015, 28/Oct/2023, and 25/Mar/2024 for the sake of convenience where the Earth
shadow eclipses occur on the Moon [12]. Tables 1, 2, and 3 depict shadow eclipse umbra and
penumbra entry and exit timings due to the Moon and the Earth on the lunar orbiting spacecraft
for the above dates. It can be observed that penumbra duration due to the Moon takes a few
seconds whereas it is in the order of hours due to the Earth.
At an altitude of 100 km (refer Table 1), it can be noticed that due to the Moon the
shadow eclipse start time begins almost 8 minutes before the eclipse start time due to the Earth
and it ends within the Earth shadow eclipse duration. The Earth shadow eclipse time prolongs
almost 89 minutes after the Moon shadow eclipse exit. Similar behavior can be observed at the
altitudes of 200 km and 300 km. It can be seen that at the altitude of 100 km, flattening effect of
the Moon (almost a difference of 4 sec between umbra/penumbra entry and exit using the
spherical and non-spherical model) slightly dominates than the Earth (no difference between
umbra/penumbra entry and exit using the spherical and non-spherical model). However, as the
altitude of the spacecraft increases, flattening effect due to the Moon remains the same (a
difference of 3 to 4 sec) whereas it dominates due to the Earth.
From Table 2, it is found that the Moon shadow eclipse starts before the first Earth
shadow eclipse start time and it exits before 3 minutes of the first Earth shadow eclipse start
time. Within the first Earth shadow eclipse, another Moon shadow eclipse enters and it ends after
9 minutes of the first Earth shadow eclipse exit time. Almost after 41 minutes of the second
Moon shadow eclipse exit time, a second Earth shadow eclipse (only penumbra) again enters and
lasts around 33 minutes. Before 1 minute of this Earth shadow eclipse exit, a third Moon shadow
eclipse starts and prolongs almost 44 minutes.
From Table 3, it is observed that the Moon shadow eclipse starts before the first Earth
shadow eclipse and lasts within the first Earth shadow eclipse (only penumbra occurs). After the
first Earth shadow exit, there is instantaneous sunlight around 13 minutes from 07:20:36 UTCG
to 07:33:46 UTCG, after that again a second Earth shadow eclipse starts and stops after 75
minutes within which another Moon shadow eclipse occurs. Again, it can be observed that
flattening effect due to the Moon dominates slightly than the Earth similar to previous two cases
at the altitude of 100 km. In Tables 2 and 3, the symbol -denotes that there is no Earth umbra
entry and exit.
We note that the difference between the equatorial and polar radius of the Moon is almost
2 km, whereas it is around 21 km for the Earth. From this study, it is observed that oblateness of
the Moon is slightly more effective than the Earth at the chosen altitude of 100 km. As the

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Asia Pacific J. Eng. Sci. Tech. 1 (1) (2015) 48-58

altitude of the spacecraft increases (shown on 28/Sep/2015 case only in Table 1) oblateness of
the Earth becomes more effective whereas flattening effect due to the Moon remains almost the
same. The umbra and penumbra duration lasts for hours due to the Earth, whereas lunar
penumbra duration is of few seconds while lunar umbra is in the order of minutes. As the altitude
of the spacecraft increases, the Earth shadow eclipse duration also increases whereas the Moon
shadow eclipse duration remains almost the same (around 46 minutes). Most of the lunar orbiter
missions have been flown at the altitude of 100 km (e.g., Chandrayaan-1 flown by ISRO on
22/Oct/2008 and Chandrayaan-2 to be flown by ISRO in near future). The obtained significant
results can be utilized while planning, designing, and operating a lunar orbiter mission. These
results can also be used for precise computation of orbit and SRP torque estimations.

Table 1: Shadow eclipse duration of the Moon and the Earth for the lunar orbiter on 28/Sep/2015 at different
altitudes.
Altitude
(km)

Model

100

Non-spherical

Spherical

200

Non-spherical

Spherical

300

Non-spherical

Spherical

Penumbra
Start Time
(UTCG)
00:42:05
00:54:01
02:39:54
00:42:01
00:54:01
02:39:50
00:31:21
00:48:47
02:38:54
04:46:27
00:31:18
00:48:36
02:38:51
04:46:24
23:46:29
00:30:44
02:04:07
04:21:40
23:46:26
00:30:29
02:04:04
04:21:37

Umbra Start
Time
(UTCG)
00:42:15
01:24:58
02:40:03
00:42:11
01:24:58
02:39:59
00:31:32
01:22:35
02:39:05
04:46:38
00:31:28
01:22:18
02:39:01
04:46:34
23:46:41
02:07:16
02:04:18
04:21:51
23:46:38
02:07:02
02:04:15
04:21:48

Umbra Stop
Time
(UTCG)
01:28:26
03:55:08
03:26:14
01:28:30
03:55:09
03:26:18
01:16:23
03:54:44
03:23:56
05:31:29
01:16:26
03:55:06
03:23:59
05:31:32
00:31:08
03:47:37
02:48:41
05:06:40
00:31:11
03:47:54
02:48:44
05:06:17

Penumbra
Stop Time
(UTCG)
01:28:36
04:55:50
03:26:24
01:28:40
04:55:50
03:26:28
01:16:34
04:54:12
03:24:07
05:31:40
01:16:37
04:54:41
03:24:10
05:31:43
00:31:20
04:53:51
02:48:53
05:06:26
00:31:23
04:54:07
02:48:56
05:06:29

Obstruction

Moon
Earth
Moon
Moon
Earth
Moon
Moon
Earth
Moon
Moon
Moon
Earth
Moon
Moon
Moon
Earth
Moon
Moon
Moon
Earth
Moon
Moon

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Table 2: Shadow eclipse duration of the Moon and the Earth for the lunar orbiter on 28/Oct/2023 at the altitude of
100 km.
Date

Model

28/Oct/2023

Nonspherical

Spherical

Penumbra
Start Time
(UTCG)
18:27:47
19:15:31
20:25:35
21:51:35
22:23:24
18:27:43
19:15:31
20:25:31
21:51:35
22:23:20

Umbra Start
Time
(UTCG)
18:27:58
20:03:49
20:25:47
22:23:37
18:27:54
20:03:49
20:25:43
22:23:32

Umbra Stop
Time
(UTCG)
19:11:53
20:20:22
21:09:41
23:07:29
19:11:58
20:20:23
21:09:46
23:07:34

Penumbra
Stop Time
(UTCG)
19:12:06
21:02:58
21:09:54
22:24:44
23:07:42
19:12:10
21:02:58
21:09:58
22:24:44
23:07:46

Obstruction

Moon
Earth
Moon
Earth
Moon
Moon
Earth
Moon
Earth
Moon

Table 3: Shadow eclipse duration of the Moon and the Earth for the lunar orbiter on 25/Mar/2024 at the altitude of
100 km.
Date

Model

25/Mar/2024

Nonspherical

Spherical

Penumbra
Start Time
(UTCG)
05:36:37
05:56:18
07:33:47
07:34:25
05:36:33
05:56:18
07:33:47
07:34:21

Umbra Start
Time
(UTCG)
05:36:47
07:34:35
05:36:42
07:34:31

Umbra Stop
Time
(UTCG)
06:22:57
08:20:45
06:23:01
08:20:49

Penumbra
Stop Time
(UTCG)
06:23:07
07:20:35
08:48:01
08:20:55
06:23:11
07:20:35
08:48:01
08:20:59

Obstruction

Moon
Earth
Earth
Moon
Moon
Earth
Earth
Moon

4. Conclusions
In this study, the well known line of intersection conical shadow model is considered for
predicting shadow eclipses due to the Moon and the Earth for any lunar orbiting spacecraft. From
the study, we notice that the Moon penumbra lasts for a few seconds whereas the Earth
penumbra lasts for hours. The Moon shadow eclipses start (end) before/after/within the Earth
shadow eclipses. The lunar spacecraft can also face the instantaneous sunlight which is possible
in the case of the Earth penumbra only. Furthermore, oblateness of the Moon is slightly more
effective than the Earth at the altitude of 100 km. As the altitude of the lunar orbiter spacecraft
increases, flattening of the Earth becomes more effective whereas it remains almost the same due
to the Moon. It can also be noticed that as the altitude of the lunar orbiting spacecraft increases,

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Asia Pacific J. Eng. Sci. Tech. 1 (1) (2015) 48-58

the Earth shadow eclipse duration also increases while the Moon shadow eclipse duration
remains almost the same.

Nomenclature
R e : Equatorial radius of the Moon
R p : Polar radius of the Moon

R e : Equatorial radius of the Earth


R p : Polar radius of the Earth

R : Radius of photosphere of the Sun

a m : Spacecraft position vector from the seleno-center


a e : Spacecraft position vector from the geo-center
r m : Sun vector from the seleno-center
r e : Sun vector from the geo-center

rm : Earth vector from the seleno-center


r m : Sun unit vector in the seleno-centric frame

xm , ym , zm : Coordinates of any point on the lunar surface


xe , ye , ze : Coordinates of any point on the Earths surface

a , a , a : Components of the spacecraft position vector a


a , a , a : Components of the spacecraft position vector a
m
1

m
2

e
1

e
2

m
3

e
3

b m : Vector joining Sun-edge 1 to the spacecraft for the lunar shadow eclipse
c m : Vector joining Sun-edge 2 to the spacecraft for the lunar shadow eclipse

b
c

m
1

, b2m , b3m : Components of the vector b m

m
1

, c2m , c3m : Components of the vector c m

b e : Vector joining Sun-edge 1 to the spacecraft for the Earth shadow eclipse
c e : Vector joining Sun-edge 2 to the spacecraft for the Earth shadow eclipse

b , b , b : Components of the vector b


c , c , c : Components of the vector c
e
1

e
2

e
3

e
1

e
2

e
3

rs1m : Vector representing the line from the seleno-center to Sun-edge 1


rsm2 : Vector representing the line from the seleno-center to Sun-edge 2
rs1e : Vector representing the line from the geo-center to Sun-edge 1

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rse2 : Vector representing the line from the geo-center to Sun-edge 2

S pm : Unit vector orthogonal to r m in the spacecraft, Moon and Sun centres plane
ri m : Vector normal to the plane

A
A

m
Line1

m
m
, BLine
1 , CLine1 : Coefficients of the intersection between Line 1 and the lunar surface

m
Line 2

m
m
, BLine
2 , CLine 2 : Coefficients of the intersection between Line 2 and the lunar surface

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