Orbit evolution, maintenance and disposal of SpaceChip swarms through electro-chromic control

Colombo, C., Lücking, C. and McInnes, C. R. (2013) Orbit evolution, maintenance and disposal of SpaceChip swarms through electro-chromic control. Acta Astronautica, 82(1), pp. 25-37. (doi:10.1016/j.actaastro.2012.05.035)

Colombo, C., Lücking, C. and McInnes, C. R. (2013) Orbit evolution, maintenance and disposal of SpaceChip swarms through electro-chromic control. Acta Astronautica, 82(1), pp. 25-37. (doi:10.1016/j.actaastro.2012.05.035)

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Abstract

The combined effect of solar radiation pressure, Earth oblateness and atmospheric drag on the orbital dynamics of satellites-on-a-chip (SpaceChips) is investigated for future swarm mission concepts. The natural evolution of the swarm is exploited to perform spatially distributed measurements of the upper layers of the atmosphere. The energy gain from asymmetric solar radiation pressure can be used to balance the energy dissipation from atmospheric drag. An algorithm for long-term orbit control is then designed, based on changing the reflectivity coefficient of the SpaceChips. The subsequent modulation of the solar radiation pressure allows stabilisation of the swarm in the orbital element phase space. It is shown that the orbit lifetime for such devices can be extended through the interaction of solar radiation pressure and atmospheric drag and indeed selected and the end-of-life re-entry of the swarm can be ensured, by exploiting atmospheric drag.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Colombo, Camilla and McInnes, Professor Colin
Authors: Colombo, C., Lücking, C., and McInnes, C. R.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Systems Power and Energy
Journal Name:Acta Astronautica
Publisher:Elsevier Ltd.
ISSN:0094-5765
ISSN (Online):1879-2030

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