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Section: Research Program

Small controls and conservative systems, averaging

Using averaging techniques to study small perturbations of integrable Hamiltonian systems is as old an idea as celestial mechanics. It is very subtle in the case of multiple periods but more elementary in the single period case, here it boils down to taking the average of the perturbation along each periodic orbit  [32], [74].

This line of research stemmed out of applications to space engineering (see section 4.1): the control of the super-integrable Keplerian motion of a spacecraft orbiting around the Earth is an example of a slow-fast controlled system. Since weak propulsion is used, the control itself acts as a perturbation, among other perturbations of similar magnitudes: higher order terms of the Earth potential (including J2 effect, first), potential of more distant celestial bodies (such as the Sun and the Moon), atmospheric drag, or even radiation pressure.

Properly qualifying the convergence properties (when the small parameter goes to zero) is important and is made difficult by the presence of control. In [34], convergence is seen as convergence to a differential inclusion; this applies to minimum time; a contribution of this work is to put forward the metric character of the averaged system by yielding a Finsler metric (see section 3.2.2). Proving convergence of the extremals (solutions of the Pontryagin Maximum Principle) is more intricate. In [20], standard averaging ( [32], [74]) is performed on the minimum time extremal flow after carefully identifying slow variables of the system thanks to a symplectic reduction. This alternative approach allows to retrieve the previous metric approximation, and to partly address the question of convergence. Under suitable assumptions on a given geodesic of the averaged system (disconjugacy conditions, namely), one proves existence of a family of quasi-extremals for the original system that converge towards the geodesic when the small perturbation parameter goes to zero. This needs to be improved, but convergence of all extremals to extremals of an “averaged Pontryagin Maximum Principle” certainly fails. In particular, one cannot hope for C1-regularity on the value function when the small parameter goes to zero as swallowtail-like singularities due to the structure of local minima in the problem are expected. (A preliminary analysis has been made in [53].)