Chaos in a spacecraft attitude maneuver due to time-periodic perturbations

G. L. Gray, I. Dobson, D. C. Kammer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


We use Melnikov’s method to study the chaotic dynamics of an attitude transition maneuver of a torque-free rigid body in going from minor axis spin to major axis spin under the influence of small damping. The chaotic motion is due to the formation of Smale horseshoes which are caused by the oscillation of small subbodies inside the satellite. The equations of motion are derived and then transformed into a form suitable for the application of Melnikov’s method. An analytical criterion for chaotic motion is derived in terms of the system parameters. This criterion is evaluated for its significance to the design of artificial satellites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-508
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Mechanics, Transactions ASME
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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