The Electric Solar Wind Sail (E-sail) is an innovative propellantless propulsion system conceived by Pekka Janhunen in 2004 for use in interplanetary space. An E-sail consists of a network of electrically charged tethers maintained at a high voltage level by an electron emitter. The electrostatic field surrounding the E-sail extracts momentum from the incoming solar wind ions, thus giving rise to the generation of a continuous thrust. In a geocentric context, the same physical principle is also exploited by the plasma brake, a promising option for reducing the decay time of satellites in low Earth orbits after the end of their operational life. This paper discusses the scientific advances of both E-sail and plasma brake concepts from their first design to the current state of the art. A general description of the E-sail architecture is first presented with particular emphasis on the proposed tether deployment mechanisms and thermo-structural analyses that have been carried out over the recent years. The working principle of an E-sail is then illustrated and the evolution of the thrust and torque vector models is retraced to emphasize the subsequent refinements that these models have encountered. The dynamic behavior of an E-sail is also analyzed by illustrating the mathematical tools that have been proposed and developed for both orbital dynamics and attitude control. A particular effort is devoted to reviewing the numerous mission scenarios that have been studied to date. In fact, the extensive literature about E-sail-based mission scenarios demonstrates the versatility of such an innovative propulsion system in an interplanetary framework. Credit is given to the very recent studies on environmental uncertainties, which highlight the importance of using suitable control strategies for the compensation of solar wind fluctuations. Finally, the applications of the plasma brake are thoroughly reviewed.

A comprehensive review of Electric Solar Wind Sail concept and its applications

Bassetto m
Primo
Formal Analysis
;
niccolai l
Secondo
Data Curation
;
quarta a
Penultimo
Conceptualization
;
mengali g
Ultimo
Writing – Original Draft Preparation
2022-01-01

Abstract

The Electric Solar Wind Sail (E-sail) is an innovative propellantless propulsion system conceived by Pekka Janhunen in 2004 for use in interplanetary space. An E-sail consists of a network of electrically charged tethers maintained at a high voltage level by an electron emitter. The electrostatic field surrounding the E-sail extracts momentum from the incoming solar wind ions, thus giving rise to the generation of a continuous thrust. In a geocentric context, the same physical principle is also exploited by the plasma brake, a promising option for reducing the decay time of satellites in low Earth orbits after the end of their operational life. This paper discusses the scientific advances of both E-sail and plasma brake concepts from their first design to the current state of the art. A general description of the E-sail architecture is first presented with particular emphasis on the proposed tether deployment mechanisms and thermo-structural analyses that have been carried out over the recent years. The working principle of an E-sail is then illustrated and the evolution of the thrust and torque vector models is retraced to emphasize the subsequent refinements that these models have encountered. The dynamic behavior of an E-sail is also analyzed by illustrating the mathematical tools that have been proposed and developed for both orbital dynamics and attitude control. A particular effort is devoted to reviewing the numerous mission scenarios that have been studied to date. In fact, the extensive literature about E-sail-based mission scenarios demonstrates the versatility of such an innovative propulsion system in an interplanetary framework. Credit is given to the very recent studies on environmental uncertainties, which highlight the importance of using suitable control strategies for the compensation of solar wind fluctuations. Finally, the applications of the plasma brake are thoroughly reviewed.
2022
Bassetto, M; Niccolai, L; Quarta, A; Mengali, G
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11568/1117504
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