August 19, 2015
Diagram of the Lagrange points associated with the sun-Earth system
A Lagrange point is a location in space where the combined gravitational forces of two large bodies, such as Earth and the sun or Earth and the moon, equal the centrifugal force felt by a much smaller third body. The interaction of the forces creates a point of equilibrium where a spacecraft may be “parked” to make observations.
These points are named after Joseph-Louis Lagrange, an 18th-century mathematician who wrote about them in a 1772 paper concerning what he called the “three-body problem.” They are also called Lagrangian points and libration points.
Structure of Lagrange points
There are five Lagrange points around major bodies such as a planet or a star. Three of them lie along the line connecting the two large bodies. In the Earth-sun system, for example, the first point, L1…
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