Design and trade-offs of a pole-sitter mission

Matteo Ceriotti, Jeannette Heiligers, Colin McInnes

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This paper provides a mission analysis and systems design of a pole-sitter mission, i.e. a spacecraft that is continuously above an Earth Pole, and can provide real-time, continuous and hemispherical coverage of the polar regions. Two different propulsion strategies are proposed: solar electric propulsion (SEP) and SEP hybridized with a solar sail. For both, minimum-propellant pole-sitter orbits and transfers are designed, assuming Soyuz and Ariane 5 launch options. A mass budget analysis allows for a trade-off between mission lifetime and payload mass capacity (up to 7 years for 100 kg), and candidate payloads for a range of applications are investigated.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2013
Event3rd International Symposium on Solar Sailing - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 11 Jun 201313 Jun 2013


Conference3rd International Symposium on Solar Sailing
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • pole-sitter
  • polar observation
  • trajectory optimisation
  • solar electric propulsion
  • soalr sailing
  • hybrid propulsion
  • space systems design


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