Optimal solar sail transfers between Halo orbits of different Sun-planet systems

Heiligers, J., Mingotti, G. and McInnes, C. R. (2015) Optimal solar sail transfers between Halo orbits of different Sun-planet systems. Advances in Space Research, 55(5), pp. 1405-1421. (doi:10.1016/j.asr.2014.11.033)

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Abstract

This paper investigates time-optimal solar sail trajectories between Libration Point Orbits (LPOs) of different circular restricted Sun-planet three-body systems. Key in the investigations is the search for transfers that require little steering effort to enable the transfers with low-control authority solar sail-like devices such as SpaceChips. Two transfers are considered: (1) from a Sun–Earth L2-Halo orbit to a Sun–Mars L1-Halo orbit and (2) from a Sun–Earth L1-Halo orbit to a Sun–Mercury L2-Halo orbit. The optimal control problem to find these time-optimal transfers is derived, including a constraint to mimic limited steering capabilities, and is solved with a direct pseudospectral method for which novel first guess solutions are developed. For a near-term sail performance comparable to that of NASA’s Sunjammer sail, the results show transfers that indeed require very little steering effort: the sail acceleration vector can be bounded to a cone around the Sun-sail line with a half-angle of 7.5 deg. These transfers can serve a range of novel solar sail applications covering the entire spectrum of sail length-scales: micro-sized SpaceChips could establish a continuous Earth–Mars communication link, a traditional-sized sail provides opportunities for in-situ observations of Mercury and a future kilometer-sized sail could create an Earth–Mars cargo transport gateway for human exploration of Mars.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:McInnes, Professor Colin
Authors: Heiligers, J., Mingotti, G., and McInnes, C. R.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Systems Power and Energy
Journal Name:Advances in Space Research
Publisher:Elsevier Ltd.
ISSN:0273-1177
ISSN (Online):1879-1948
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.
First Published:First published in Advances in Space Research 55(5):1405-1421
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.

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