A new solar sail orbit

Shengping Gong, Hexi Baoyin, Junfeng Li, Jules Simo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Solar sail is used to achieve a geocentric sun-synchronous frozen orbit. This kind of orbit combines the characteristics of both sun-synchronous orbits and frozen orbits. Furthermore, the impossible orbits for a typical spacecraft such as sun-synchronous orbits whose inclination is less than 90° are also possible for solar sail. To achieve a sun-synchronous frozen orbit, the characteristic acceleration of the sail is chosen properly. In addition, the attitude of the sail is adjusted to keep the sun-synchronous and frozen characteristics. The perturbations including atmosphere drag, third-body gravitational forces and shaded regions are discussed, where the atmosphere drag is cancelled by solar radiation pressure force, third-body gravitational forces have negligible effects on the orbit and the shaded region can be avoided by choosing the classical orbit elements of the sail. At last, a numerical example is employed to validate the sun-synchronous frozen characteristics of the sail.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)848-855
Number of pages7
JournalScience China - Technological Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • solar sailing
  • solar sail orbits
  • sun-synchronous orbit
  • atmospheric drag


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