Hybrid solar sail and SEP propulsion for novel Earth observation missions

Matteo Ceriotti, Colin McInnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this paper we propose a pole-sitter spacecraft hybridising solar electric propulsion (SEP) and solar sailing. The intriguing concept of a hybrid propulsion spacecraft is attractive: by combining the two forms of propulsion, the drawbacks of the two systems cancel each other, potentially enabling propellant mass saving, increased reliability, versatility and lifetime over the two independent systems. This almost completely unexplored concept will be applied to the continuous monitoring of the Earth’s polar regions through a pole-sitter, i.e. a spacecraft that is stationary above one pole of the Earth. The continuous, hemispherical, real-time view of the pole will enable a wide range of new applications for Earth observation and telecommunications. In this paper, families of 1-year-periodic, minimum-propellant orbits are found, for different values of the sail lightness number and distance from the pole. The optimal control problem is solved using a pseudo-spectral method. The process gives a reference control to maintain these orbits. In addition, for stability issues, a feedback control is designed to guarantee station-keeping in the presence of injection errors, sail degradation and temporary SEP failure. Results show that propellant mass can be saved by using a medium-sized solar sail. Finally, it is shown that the feedback control is able to maintain the spacecraft on-track with only minimal additional effort from the SEP thruster.
LanguageEnglish
Pages809-821
Number of pages13
JournalActa Astronautica
Volume69
Issue number9-10
Early online date25 Jun 2011
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011
Event61st International Astronautical Congress, IAC 2010 - Prague, Czech Republic
Duration: 27 Sep 20101 Oct 2010

Fingerprint

Electric propulsion
Propulsion
Poles
Earth (planet)
Propellants
Spacecraft
Feedback control
Orbits
Spacecraft propulsion
Telecommunication
Degradation
Monitoring

Keywords

  • hybrid propulsion
  • pole-sitter
  • solar sailing
  • solar electric propulsion
  • earth observation

Cite this

Ceriotti, Matteo ; McInnes, Colin. / Hybrid solar sail and SEP propulsion for novel Earth observation missions. In: Acta Astronautica. 2011 ; Vol. 69, No. 9-10. pp. 809-821.
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Hybrid solar sail and SEP propulsion for novel Earth observation missions. / Ceriotti, Matteo; McInnes, Colin.

In: Acta Astronautica, Vol. 69, No. 9-10, 09.2011, p. 809-821.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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