The Electric Solar Wind Sail (E-sail) is a propellantless propulsion system that generates thrust by exploiting the interaction between a grid of tethers, kept at a high electric potential, and the charged particles of the solar wind. Such an advanced propulsion system allows innovative and exotic mission scenarios to be envisaged, including non-Keplerian orbits, artificial Lagrange point maintenance, and heliostationary condition attainment. In the preliminary mission analysis of an E-sail-based spacecraft, the local physical properties of the solar wind are usually specified and kept constant, while the E-sailpropulsive acceleration is assumed to vary with the heliocentric distance, the sail attitude, and the grid electric voltage. However, the solar wind physical properties are known to be characterized by a marked variability, which implies a non-negligible uncertainty as to whether or not the solutions obtained with a deterministic approach are representative of the actual E-sail trajectory. The aim of this paper is to propose an effective method to evaluate the impact of solar wind variability on the E-Sail trajectory design, by considering the solar wind dynamic pressure as a random variable with a gamma distribution. In particular, the effects of plasma property fluctuations on E-sail trajectory are calculated with an uncertainty quantification procedure based on the generalized polynomial chaos method. The paper also proposes a possible control strategy that uses suitable adjustments of grid electric voltage. Numerical simulations demonstrate the importance of such a control system for missions that require a precise modulation of the propulsive acceleration magnitude.

Impact of solar wind fluctuations on Electric Sail mission design

Niccolai L
Primo
Conceptualization
;
Anderlini A
Secondo
Software
;
Mengali G
Penultimo
Writing – Review & Editing
;
Quarta A
Ultimo
Methodology
2018

Abstract

The Electric Solar Wind Sail (E-sail) is a propellantless propulsion system that generates thrust by exploiting the interaction between a grid of tethers, kept at a high electric potential, and the charged particles of the solar wind. Such an advanced propulsion system allows innovative and exotic mission scenarios to be envisaged, including non-Keplerian orbits, artificial Lagrange point maintenance, and heliostationary condition attainment. In the preliminary mission analysis of an E-sail-based spacecraft, the local physical properties of the solar wind are usually specified and kept constant, while the E-sailpropulsive acceleration is assumed to vary with the heliocentric distance, the sail attitude, and the grid electric voltage. However, the solar wind physical properties are known to be characterized by a marked variability, which implies a non-negligible uncertainty as to whether or not the solutions obtained with a deterministic approach are representative of the actual E-sail trajectory. The aim of this paper is to propose an effective method to evaluate the impact of solar wind variability on the E-Sail trajectory design, by considering the solar wind dynamic pressure as a random variable with a gamma distribution. In particular, the effects of plasma property fluctuations on E-sail trajectory are calculated with an uncertainty quantification procedure based on the generalized polynomial chaos method. The paper also proposes a possible control strategy that uses suitable adjustments of grid electric voltage. Numerical simulations demonstrate the importance of such a control system for missions that require a precise modulation of the propulsive acceleration magnitude.
Niccolai, L; Anderlini, A; Mengali, G; Quarta, A
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11568/932878
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