A new solar sail orbit

Gong, Shengping and Baoyin, Hexi and Li, Junfeng and Simo, Jules (2012) A new solar sail orbit. Science China - Technological Sciences, 55 (3). pp. 848-855. ISSN 1674-7321

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Abstract

Solar sail is used to achieve a geocentric sun-synchronous frozen orbit. This kind of orbit combines the characteristics of both sun-synchronous orbits and frozen orbits. Furthermore, the impossible orbits for a typical spacecraft such as sun-synchronous orbits whose inclination is less than 90° are also possible for solar sail. To achieve a sun-synchronous frozen orbit, the characteristic acceleration of the sail is chosen properly. In addition, the attitude of the sail is adjusted to keep the sun-synchronous and frozen characteristics. The perturbations including atmosphere drag, third-body gravitational forces and shaded regions are discussed, where the atmosphere drag is cancelled by solar radiation pressure force, third-body gravitational forces have negligible effects on the orbit and the shaded region can be avoided by choosing the classical orbit elements of the sail. At last, a numerical example is employed to validate the sun-synchronous frozen characteristics of the sail.