In this paper, an analytical second-order state transition matrix (STM) for relative motion in curvilinear coordinates is presented and applied to the problem of orbit uncertainty propagation in nearly circular orbits (eccentricity smaller than 0.1). The matrix is obtained by linearization around a second-order analytical approximation of the relative motion recently proposed by one of the authors and can be seen as a second-order extension of the curvilinear Clohessy–Wiltshire (C–W) solution. The accuracy of the uncertainty propagation is assessed by comparison with numerical results based on Monte Carlo propagation of a high-fidelity model including geopotential and third-body perturbations. Results show that the proposed STM can greatly improve the accuracy of the predicted relative state: the average error is found to be at least one order of magnitude smaller compared to the curvilinear C–W solution. In addition, the effect of environmental perturbations on the uncertainty propagation is shown to be negligible up to several revolutions in the geostationary region and for a few revolutions in low Earth orbit in the worst case.
Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 28, 2017
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