M.Sc Thesis

M.Sc StudentVadlamani Vinayak
SubjectEffect of Poynting-Robertson Drag and Solar Wind Drag on
Smart Dust in Space
DepartmentDepartment of Aerospace Engineering
Supervisor PROF. Pinchas Gurfil
Full Thesis textFull thesis text - English Version


Due to breakthrough advances in miniaturization, the scale of spacecraft components can now be reduced to the millimeter scale. Termed smart dust, the concept of spacecraft on a chip promises to enable a novel category of such centimeter sized spacecraft to be flown in swarms of hundreds or even thousands. One alternative is to exploit perturbations like solar radiation pressure (SRP) for orbit control without using artificial forces thus yielding stable equilibrium solutions that could sustain mission requirements. Previous studies have investigated the effect of Poynting-Robertson and Solar Wind (PRSW) drag for interplanetary dust. Given the similar area-to-mass ratio of smart dust, including Poynting-Robertson and Solar Wind (PRSW) drag could possibly extend the solution space thereby increasing the span of partial or full equilibrium solutions for smart dust devices. The inclusion of PRSW drag in the dynamical model was studied using averaging techniques based on Gauss Variational Equations. The study focused herein on the dynamical behavior of the relative perigee-sun angle and its stability as a tool for analyzing long-term evolution. The extension of phase space by solving for a variable relative sun-perigee angle revealed existence of new equilibria cases. The averaged equations of motion for Poynting-Robertson and Solar Wind drag around Earth orbits showed periodic behavior with respect to the relative sun-perigee angle. Analyses revealed stable equilibrium points which could be exploited for missions requiring specific sun orientation. It has also been shown that area-to-mass ratio can be altered to achieve a desired orbit orientation. Time histories reveal the relative effect of including Poynting-Robertson and Solar Wind drag in the model, and naturally on the evolution of long-term orbits.