Orbiting body


In astrodynamics, an orbiting body is any physical body that orbits a more massive one, called the primary body. The orbiting body is properly referred to as the secondary body (),[1] which is less massive than the primary body ().

Thus, or .

Under standard assumptions in astrodynamics, the barycenter of the two bodies is a focus of both orbits.

An orbiting body may be a spacecraft (i.e. an artificial satellite) or a natural satellite, such as a planet, dwarf planet, moon, moonlet, asteroid, or comet.

A system of two orbiting bodies is modeled by the Two-Body Problem and a system of three orbiting bodies is modeled by the Three-Body Problem. These problems can be generalized to an N-body problem. While there are a few analytical solutions to the n-body problem, it can be reduced to a 2-body system if the secondary body stays out of other bodies' Sphere of Influence and remains in the primary body's sphere of influence.[2]

See also


  1. ^ "Dictionary of Technical Terms for Aerospace Use". NASA. Retrieved 2010-05-11.
  2. ^ Curtis, Howard D. (2009). Orbital Mechanics for Engineering Students, 2e. New York: Elsevier. ISBN 978-0-12-374778-5.