Long Term Orbital Modeling for Objects in Geostationary Earth Orbit

Open Access
Chow, Philip
Area of Honors:
Aerospace Engineering
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • David Bradley Spencer, Thesis Supervisor
  • Robert Graham Melton, Honors Advisor
  • George A Lesieutre, Faculty Reader
  • Orbit Progagation
  • Orbital Modeling
  • Symplectic
  • ODE45
  • Integrator
The suitability of different numerical integrators for the long term orbital modeling of a satellite in geostationary Earth orbit is examined. The integrators used are the ODE45 Runge- Kutta Method from MATLAB and the symplectic Euler method, assuming only spherical harmonics of the Earth and n-body perturbations from the Sun, Moon, and other planets. Results show that the energy drift associated with both integrators makes them unsuitable for long term modeling, and that the symplectic Euler method does not actually maintain constant energy. A possible factor in the energy drift of both integrators includes the model used for n-body perturbations; future work should focus on determining the extent that this affected the results and the steps necessary to correct the errors.