The Process of Encountering a Planet

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There are three phases in the process of encountering a planet with a spacecraft, the launch phase, the cruise phase, and the encounter phase. The launch phase is primarily preparation for the actual launch of the spacecraft, choosing the correct location and time. The cruise phase consists of primarily experiments and slight alterations to the trajectory. The encounter phase consists of any flyby or surface encounter, both are most often designed to conduct experiments and gather data. Prior to launching a spacecraft, extensive knowledge of gravitation, mechanics, interplanetary trajectories, and planetary orbits, is needed. There are many different laws relating to gravitation and mechanics that significantly influence the spacecraft. There are many different types of interplanetary trajectories, or trajectories that function outside of a planet's gravity or to escape a planet’s gravity. The many types of planetary orbits are extremely important to the cruise and encounter phases of spaceflight. Space flight is a very complicated process and relies on plenty of knowledge of physics, space, and mathematics, and requires a lot of preparation.

Physics
Gravitation and Mechanics
Gravitation, a fundamental law of the universe, is the mutual attraction of all masses in the universe. The equation used to calculate the gravity at the surface of a planet is F=mg, where Fis the gravitational force, m is the mass of the object, and g is the acceleration due to gravity. The principles stated in Principia, Sir Isaac Newton’s book that describes his laws of motion, are the three ways to change the momentum of a body: the law of inertia, the law of acceleration, and the law of action-reaction.
Johannes Kepler described three laws of...

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"Chapter 16. Encounter Phase." Basics of Space Flight Section III. Space Flight Operations. NASA, n.d. Web. 21 May 2014.
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