Displaced solar sail orbits: dynamics and applications

Jules Simo, Colin R. McInnes

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We consider displaced periodic orbits at linear order in the circular restricted Earth-Moon system, where the third massless body is a solar sail. These highly non-Keplerian orbits are achieved using an extremely small sail acceleration. Prior results have been developed by using an optimal choice of the sail pitch angle, which maximises the out-of-plane displacement. In this paper we will use solar sail propulsion to provide station-keeping at periodic orbits around the libration points using small variations in the sail's orientation. By introducing a first-order approximation, periodic orbits are derived analytically at linear order. These approximate analytical solutions are utilized in a numerical search to determine displaced periodic orbits in the full nonlinear model. Applications include continuous line-of-sight communications with the lunar poles.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2010
Event20th AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Meeting - San Diego, California
Duration: 14 Feb 201017 Feb 2010


Conference20th AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Meeting
CitySan Diego, California


  • solar sail orbits
  • out-of-plane displacement
  • libration points
  • first-order approximation
  • nonlinear model


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