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Distributed reflectivity solar sails for extended mission applications

Borggrafe, Andreas and Ceriotti, Matteo and Heiligers, Jeannette and McInnes, Colin (2014) Distributed reflectivity solar sails for extended mission applications. In: 3rd International Symposium on Solar Sailing, 2013-06-11 - 2013-06-13.

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    The dynamics of solar sails with a variable surface reflectivity distribution are investigated. When changing the reflectivity across the sail film, solar radiation pressure forces and torques can be controlled without changing the attitude of the spacecraft relative to the Sun or using attitude control actuators. The reflectivity can in principle be modified using electro-chromic coatings, which are applied here as examples to counteract gravity-gradient torques in Earth orbit and to enable specific shape profiles of a flexible sail film. This ‘optical reconfiguration’ method introduces an adaptive solar sail as a multi-functional platform for novel mission applications.