Part IB Advanced Physics Course

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lagrange points

Lagrange points

(From JPL's Basics of Space Flight).

Consider a system with two large bodies, e.g. Jupiter orbiting the sun. The third body, such as a spacecraft or an asteroid, might occupy any of five Lagrange points: In line with the two large bodies are the L1, L2 and L3 points. The leading apex of the triangle is L4; the trailing apex is L5. These last two are also called Trojan points. All five points are fixed points in the rotating frame. L1, L2 and L3 are unstable fixed points, but you can stay near them with little effort. L4 and L5 may be stable fixed points, depending on the mass ratio of the two big bodies.

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