Potential Effects of a Realistic Solar Sail and Comparison to an Ideal Sail

Simo, J orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-1489-5920 and McInnes, CR (2016) Potential Effects of a Realistic Solar Sail and Comparison to an Ideal Sail. In: Spaceflight Mechanics 2016. Advances in the Astronautical Sciences. Univelt, Inc., pp. 3107-3120.

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Solar sail technology offers new capabilities for space missions due to the opportunities for non-Keplerian orbits. In this paper, novel families of highly non-Keplerian orbits for spacecraft utilizing solar sail at linear order are investigated in the Earth-Moon circular restricted three-body problem. Firstly, it is assumed implicitly that the solar sail is a perfect reflector. Based upon the first-order approximation, an analytical formulation of the periodic orbits at linear order is presented. The approximate analytical solutions offer useful insights into the nature of the motion in the vicinity of the libration points, and are used to give periodic solutions numerically in the full nonlinear system. These orbits were accomplished by using an optimal choice of the sail pitch angle, which maximize the out-of-plane distance. Thereafter, the resulting effects of the non-ideal flat sail model have been computed and compared with an ideal solar sail. A square sail configuration, which is likely to be chosen for various near-term sail missions is used to illustrate the concept. The main effect of the non-perfect sail is to
reduce the out-of-plane displacement distance which may be achieved for a given characteristic acceleration. It is also observed that there is a significant deviation in force magnitude between the realistic solar sail and the ideal solar sail model.

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