Unconventional solar sailing

Ceriotti, M. (2016) Unconventional solar sailing. In: Gómez, G. and Masdemont, J. J. (eds.) Astrodynamics Network AstroNet-II. Series: Astrophysics and space science proceedings (44). Springer International Publishing, pp. 45-62. ISBN 9783319239866 (doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-23986-6_4)

Full text not currently available from Enlighten.


The idea of exploiting solar radiation pressure for space travel, or solar sailing, is more than a 100 years old, and yet most of the research thus far has considered only a limited number of sail configurations. However solar sails do not have to be inertially-pointing squares, spin-stabilised discs or heliogyros: there is a range of different configurations and concepts that present some advantageous features. This chapter will show and discuss three non-conventional solar sail configurations and their applications. In the first, the sail is complemented by an electric thruster, resulting in a hybrid-propulsion spacecraft which is capable to hover above the Earth’s Poles in a stationary position (pole-sitter). The second concept makes use of a variable-geometry pyramidal sail, naturally pointing towards the sun, to increase or decrease the orbit altitude without the need of propellant or attitude manoeuvres. Finally, the third concept shows that the orbit altitude can also be changed, without active manoeuvres or geometry change, if the sail naturally oscillates synchronously with the orbital motion. The main motivation behind these novel configurations is to overcome some of the engineering limitations of solar sailing; the resulting concepts pose some intriguing orbital and attitude dynamics problems, which will be discussed.

Item Type:Book Sections
Additional Information:Print ISBN: 9783319239842.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Ceriotti, Dr Matteo
Authors: Ceriotti, M.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Systems Power and Energy
Publisher:Springer International Publishing

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