Vibration induced gear noise and dynamic loads remain key concerns in many transmission applications that use planetary gears. Tooth separations at large vibrations introduce nonlinearity in geared systems. The present work examines the complex, nonlinear dynamic behavior of spur planetary gears using two models: (i) a lumped-parameter model, and (ii) a finite element model. The two-dimensional lumped-parameter model represents the gears as lumped inertias, the gear meshes as nonlinear springs with tooth contact loss and periodically varying stiffness due to changing tooth contact conditions, and the supports as linear springs. The two-dimensional finite element model is developed from a unique finite elementcontact analysis solver specialized for gear dynamics. Mesh stiffness variation excitation, corner contact, and gear tooth contact loss are all intrinsically considered in the finite element analysis. The dynamics of planetary gears show a rich spectrum of nonlinear phenomena. Nonlinear jumps, chaotic motions, and period-doubling bifurcations occur when the mesh frequency or any of its higher harmonics are near a natural frequency of the system. Responses from the dynamic analysis using analytical and finite element models are successfully compared qualitatively and quantitatively. These comparisons validate the effectiveness of the lumped-parameter model to simulate the dynamics of planetary gears. Mesh phasing rules to suppress rotational and translational vibrations in planetary gears are valid even when nonlinearity from tooth contact loss occurs. These mesh phasing conclusions, however, are not valid in the chaotic and period-doubling regions.

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