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<p>When traveling to Mars in a space craft, you want to find a compromise between flight duration and fuel consumption. One common trajectory for achieving this is the so-called Hohmann transfer which takes about 9 months from Earth and needs two maneuvers, both of which are accelerations!</p>
<p>Usually, when modeling movement of space crafts, one uses the Kepler model of two massive bodies attracting each other via gravitation. In case you have more time available for a space journey, however, you might consider a third body in your calculations. This introduces a very chaotic behavior, which you can use in turn to find very special trajectories that allow you to get to various places spending a lot less fuel. Unfortunately this will be much slower.</p>
<p>These special trajectories are called low-energy transfers and form a part of the so-called interplanetary transport network. There have been a handful of missions already using these trajectories, e.g. JAXA’s Hiten probe in 1990 and ESA’s BepiColombo which is en route to Mercury right now.</p>
<p>In this talk we will have a short introduction to the ever-surprising world of orbital mechanics followed by a discussion of the three-body problem including Lagrangian points. We will then see what the so-called weak stability boundary is and how chaos can help us understand why these strange trajectories exist. No math knowledge required!</p>