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Distributed reflectivity solar sails for extended mission applications

Borggrafe, Andreas and Heiligers, Jeannette and Ceriotti, Matteo and McInnes, Colin (2014) Distributed reflectivity solar sails for extended mission applications. In: Advances in Solar Sailing. Springer Praxis Books - Astronautical Engineering . Springer Praxis Books, pp. 331-350. ISBN 9783642349065

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Abstract

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.