Dynamics of an orbital siphon anchored to a rotating ellipsoidal asteroid for resource exploitation

Viale, A. , Ceriotti, M. and McInnes, C. (2020) Dynamics of an orbital siphon anchored to a rotating ellipsoidal asteroid for resource exploitation. Acta Astronautica, 177, pp. 561-576. (doi: 10.1016/j.actaastro.2020.08.001)

[img] Text
221657.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

4MB

Abstract

This paper investigates the dynamics of an orbital siphon anchored to a rotating ellipsoidal asteroid. The siphon is a chain of tether-connected payload masses arranged vertically from the asteroid surface, envisaged for propellantless delivery of payloads (e.g., mined material) from the asteroid surface to a collecting spacecraft. If the structure is long enough, the centrifugal-induced force can overcome the gravitational force on the payloads, eventually allowing resource payloads to escape. By connecting new payloads at the bottom of this chain while removing upper payloads a net orbital siphon effect is established, which provides a net continuous flow of resources from the asteroid surface to a collecting spacecraft, attached at the top of the siphon. The dynamics of the siphon is investigated in detail by varying a set of relevant parameters, in particular, chain length, anchor location and asteroid shape. It is shown that the system exhibits oscillatory behaviour in the equatorial plane, with decreasing oscillation amplitude over time and that the longest equatorial end is the best anchor location to guarantee proper siphon operation while minimizing the chain length. Eventually, a method is proposed to exploit the equatorial Coriolis-induced oscillations of the siphon to transfer payload masses from the collecting spacecraft to the stable equilibrium points associated with the effective potential of the ellipsoidal asteroid, where a catcher would collect the material.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Viale, Mr Andrea and Ceriotti, Dr Matteo and McInnes, Professor Colin
Authors: Viale, A., Ceriotti, M., and McInnes, C.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Systems Power and Energy
College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Electronics and Nanoscale Engineering
Journal Name:Acta Astronautica
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0094-5765
ISSN (Online):1879-2030
Published Online:07 August 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 IAA
First Published:First published in Acta Astronautica 177: 561-576
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record

Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
172105Ultra-low energy trajectories for near Earth asteroid capture and returnColin McInnesThe Royal Society (ROYSOC)WM150013ENG - Systems Power & Energy
306654Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging TechnologiesColin McInnesRoyal Academy of Engineering (RAE)02/08/2019ENG - Systems Power & Energy