A Dynamic Simulation of Trajectory and Attitude Stabilization for a Solar Sail Mission to Study the Asteroid Vesta
A solar sail is a space propulsion system that requires no onboard fuel source like traditional chemical fueled rockets. Instead, solar sails use solar pressure, which is utilized by the reflection and absorption of photons by the sail. This pressure is very small (9 N/km2 at 1 au from the sun). To take advantage of solar pressure, a solar sail must have a large surface area and a small mass. Despite these size and mass constraints, a solar sail has many benefits over other propulsion systems in certain applications. These benefits include a significantly reduced cost coupled with an increase in the allowable payload mass. Studying asteroids has many benefits as mankind increases its presence in space. Vesta in particular is worthy of studying because it is the most geologically diverse asteroid and we can learn many things from it. This thesis will show that a spacecraft using solar sails as the only propulsion source after sail deployment is well suited for a mission to study Vesta. Additionally, it will show the effectiveness of two commonly proposed methods for attitude stabilization of solar sail craft: gravity gradient and tip-mounted vanes.
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Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
College of Engineering and Computer Science
Dissertations, Academic -- Engineering; Engineering -- Dissertations, Academic; Solar sails; Space vehicles -- Attitude control systems; Space vehicles -- Propulsion systems; Vesta (Asteroid)
Length of Campus-only Access
Honors in the Major Thesis
Fein, Brian, "A Dynamic Simulation of Trajectory and Attitude Stabilization for a Solar Sail Mission to Study the Asteroid Vesta" (2004). HIM 1990-2015. 414.