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Orbit design for future SpaceChip swarm missions

Colombo, C. and McInnes, C.R. (2010) Orbit design for future SpaceChip swarm missions. In: 61st Aeronautical Congress, IAC 2010, 2010-09-27 - 2010-10-01.

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Abstract

The effect of solar radiation pressure and atmospheric drag on the orbital dynamics of satellites-on-a-chip (SpaceChips) is exploited to design long-lived orbits about the Earth. The orbit energy gain due to asymmetric solar radiation pressure, considering the Earth shadow, is used to balance the energy loss due to atmospheric drag. Future missions for a swarm of SpaceChips are proposed, where a number of small devices are released from a conventional spacecraft to perform spatially distributed measurements of the conditions in the ionosphere and exosphere. It is shown that the orbit lifetime can be extended and indeed selected through solar radiation pressure and the end-of-life re-entry of the swarm can be ensured, by exploiting atmospheric drag.