A hand-drawn picture to illustrate spacecraft orbit


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I knew this from my time on KSP.
If you have a solar-powered craft without a heaping ton of batteries, you need to avoid elliptical orbits with their apoapsis on the far side of the object from the sun at all costs. The apoapsis is the slowest point in the orbit, and if you’re on a particularly close orbit, then you can end up spending practically no time in the sun during periapsis and all your time in shadow.

Often it’s worth it to try and adjust your orbit into a polar orbit that runs parallel to the object’s terminator so you can get full sun exposure all the time.

Or you could just not be a noob, and instead plan ahead with enough batteries or the tiny little RTG that’ll keep your probe’s head above water on the dark side of the object.


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