In orbital mechanics, specific energy (symbol ) is the total orbital energy per unit mass of an orbiting body.
Circular and elliptical orbits
where is the semi-major axis, is the gravitational parameter for the body being orbited, is the distance to the body being orbited at some point in time and is velocity at that time. This relationship comes about because is the kinetic energy and the potential energy of the system.
Since orbital mechanics only concerns itself with changes in orbital energy, the zero could be chosen arbitrarily. It is computationally most convenient to choose the value at escape velocity (i.e. parabolic orbit). This choice makes the semi-major axis inversely proportional to the specific energy and if the mass does not change also to the total orbital energy.
Mars circular orbit
For Mars, with = 4.280×1013 m3/s2, then for a 1 kg mass at 300 km E=
Earth circular orbit
For Mars, with = 3.986×1014 m3/s2, then for a 1 kg mass at 300 km E=
- J.R. Wertz, D.F. Everett & J.J. Puschell - Space mission engineering: The new SMAD. 2011. pp. 963-970. ISBN 978-1-881883-15-9