gravity assist

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gravity assist ‎(plural gravity assists)

  1. (astrophysics) The favorable alteration of the speed and trajectory of a spacecraft as a result of its passing near to a celestial body.
    • 1989 Oct. 10, Warren E. Leary, "Galileo's Itinerary," New York Times (retrieved 4 Sep. 2011):
      After going into orbit around Jupiter with a gravity assist from the volcanic moon Io, Galileo will spend 22 months studying the planet.
    • 1997 Sept. 22, Dick Thompson and Michael D. Lemonick, "Nukes in Space," Time:
      Cassini is supposed to swing by Earth in 1999 for a gravity assist that would sling it out toward Saturn.
    • 2009 Oct. 2, "MESSENGER Gains Critical Gravity Assist For Mercury Orbital Observations," (retrieved 4 Sep. 2011):
      MESSENGER successfully flew by Mercury yesterday, gaining a critical gravity assist that will enable it to enter orbit about Mercury in 2011.


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