Rarefied gas effects on the aerodynamics of high area-to-mass ratio spacecraft in orbit

Craig White, Camilla Colombo, Thomas Scanlon, Colin McInnes, Jason Reese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The aerodynamic situation of a satellite-on-a-chip operating in low Earth orbit bears some resemblance to a classical Crookes radiometer. The large area-to-mass ratio characteristic of a SpaceChip means that very small surface-dependent forces produce non-negligible accelerations that can significantly alter its orbit. When the temperature of a SpaceChip changes, the drag force can be changed: if the temperature increases, the drag increases (and vice versa). Analytical expressions available in the literature that describe the change in drag coefficient with orbit altitude and SpaceChip temperature compare well with our direct simulation Monte Carlo results presented here. It is demonstrated that modifying the temperature of a SpaceChip could be used for relative orbit control of individual SpaceChips in a swarm, with a maximum change in position per orbit of 50 m being achievable at 600 km altitude.
LanguageEnglish
Pages2112-2124
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Volume51
Issue number11
Early online date10 Jan 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2013

Fingerprint

rarefied gases
aerodynamics
mass ratios
Spacecraft
Aerodynamics
spacecraft
Orbits
orbits
Gases
gas
drag
temperature
Drag
drag coefficients
drag coefficient
low Earth orbits
radiometers
bears
Temperature
radiometer

Keywords

  • SpaceChip
  • rarefied gas
  • DSMC
  • position control

Cite this

White, Craig ; Colombo, Camilla ; Scanlon, Thomas ; McInnes, Colin ; Reese, Jason. / Rarefied gas effects on the aerodynamics of high area-to-mass ratio spacecraft in orbit. In: Advances in Space Research. 2013 ; Vol. 51, No. 11. pp. 2112-2124.
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Rarefied gas effects on the aerodynamics of high area-to-mass ratio spacecraft in orbit. / White, Craig; Colombo, Camilla; Scanlon, Thomas; McInnes, Colin; Reese, Jason.

In: Advances in Space Research, Vol. 51, No. 11, 01.06.2013, p. 2112-2124.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AU - McInnes, Colin

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AB - The aerodynamic situation of a satellite-on-a-chip operating in low Earth orbit bears some resemblance to a classical Crookes radiometer. The large area-to-mass ratio characteristic of a SpaceChip means that very small surface-dependent forces produce non-negligible accelerations that can significantly alter its orbit. When the temperature of a SpaceChip changes, the drag force can be changed: if the temperature increases, the drag increases (and vice versa). Analytical expressions available in the literature that describe the change in drag coefficient with orbit altitude and SpaceChip temperature compare well with our direct simulation Monte Carlo results presented here. It is demonstrated that modifying the temperature of a SpaceChip could be used for relative orbit control of individual SpaceChips in a swarm, with a maximum change in position per orbit of 50 m being achievable at 600 km altitude.

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