Distributed reflectivity solar sails for extended mission applications

Andreas Borggrafe, Jeannette Heiligers, Matteo Ceriotti, Colin McInnes

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The dynamics of solar sails with a variable surface reflectivity distribution are
investigated. When changing the reflectivity across the sail film, solar radiation pressure forces and torques can be controlled without changing the attitude of the spacecraft relative to the Sun or using attitude control actuators. The reflectivity can in principle be modified using electro-chromic coatings, which are applied here as examples to counteract gravity-gradient torques in Earth orbit and to enable specific shape profiles of a flexible sail film. This ‘optical reconfiguration’ method introduces an adaptive solar sail as a multi-functional platform for novel mission applications.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Solar Sailing
EditorsMalcolm Macdonald
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Event3rd International Symposium on Solar Sailing - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 11 Jun 201313 Jun 2013

Publication series

NameSpringer Praxis Books - Astronautical Engineering


Conference3rd International Symposium on Solar Sailing
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • solar sails
  • mission applications
  • surface reflectivity
  • fleible sail film


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