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Mathematical Problems in Engineering
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 681901, 16 pages
Research Article

Lunar CubeSat Impact Trajectory Characteristics as a Function of Its Release Conditions

1Satellite Ground System Development Team, Satellite Operation Division, Korea Aerospace Research Institute, 169-84 Gwahagno, Yuseong-Gu, Daejeon 305-806, Republic of Korea
2School of Space Research, Kyung Hee University, 1 Seocheon-dong, Giheung-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do 446-701, Republic of Korea
3Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA

Received 26 October 2014; Revised 25 February 2015; Accepted 1 March 2015

Academic Editor: Gongnan Xie

Copyright © 2015 Young-Joo Song et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


As a part of early system design activities, trajectory characteristics for a lunar CubeSat impactor mission as a function of its release conditions are analyzed. The goal of this mission is to take measurements of surface magnetic fields to study lunar magnetic anomalies. To deploy the CubeSat impactor, a mother-ship is assumed to have a circular polar orbit with inclination of 90 degrees at a 100 km altitude at the Moon. Both the in- and out-of-plane direction deploy angles as well as delta-V magnitudes are considered for the CubeSat release conditions. All necessary parameters required at the early design phase are analyzed, including CubeSat flight time to reach the lunar surface, impact velocity, cross ranges distance, and associated impact angles, which are all directly affected by the CubeSat release conditions. Also, relative motions between these two satellites are analyzed for communication and navigation purposes. Although the current analysis is only focused on a lunar impactor mission, the methods described in this work can easily be modified and applied to any future planetary impactor missions with CubeSat-based payloads.