Periodic orbits high above the ecliptic plane in the solar sail 3-body problem

Thomas J. Waters, Colin R. Mclnnes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Due to the non-central nature of the force on a solar sail, there exist equilibrium points of the equations of motion out of the ecliptic plane in the Sun-Earth-Sail circular restricted 3-body problem, in contrast with the classical Lagrange points. Analogous to the halo orbits, we construct large amplitude periodic orbits about these equilibria. By timing the period of the orbit we may negate the seasonal effects of the variation in the Earths axis of rotation, and thus the sails position when viewed from the pole subtends a much smaller angle (around 8 deg rather than 46 deg). These orbits are of practical interest with regards to communication with, and constant imaging of, the poles. In addition, we consider some control issues based on small variations in the sail's orientation. We design an optimal controller which minimizes a cost function, and then discuss the benefits of assigning the eigenvalues using single variable control. We show some novel methods for describing periodic orbits using control.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAmerican Astronautical Society - Space Flight Mechanics 2007 - Advances in the Astronautical Sciences, Proceedings of the AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Meeting
EditorsMaruthi R. Akella, James W. Gearhart, Robert H. Bishop, Alfred J. Treder
PublisherUnivelt Inc
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9780877035411
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Event17th Annual Space Flight Mechanics Meeting - Sedona, AZ, United States
Duration: 28 Jan 20071 Feb 2007

Publication series

NameAdvances in the Astronautical Sciences
Volume127 PART 2
ISSN (Print)0065-3438


Conference17th Annual Space Flight Mechanics Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySedona, AZ


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