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Parametric model and optimal control of solar sails with optical degradation

Dachwald, Bernd and Mengali, Giovanni and Quarta, Alessandro A. and Macdonald, M. (2006) Parametric model and optimal control of solar sails with optical degradation. Journal of Guidance, Control and Dynamics, 29 (5). pp. 1170-1178. ISSN 0731-5090

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Solar-sail mission analysis and design is currently performed assuming constant optical and mechanical properties of the thin metalized polymer films that are projected for solar sails. More realistically, however, these properties are likely to be affected by the damaging effects of the space environment. The standard solar-sail force models can therefore not be used to investigate the consequences of these effects on mission performance. The aim of this paper is to propose a new parametric model for describing the sail film's optical degradation with time. In particular, the sail film's optical coefficients are assumed to depend on its environmental history, that is, the radiation dose. Using the proposed model, the optimal control laws for degrading solar sails are derived using an indirect method and the effects of different degradation behaviors are investigated for an example interplanetary mission.