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Title: Satellite aerodynamic investigation using precise orbital determination
Author: Harrison, Ian Keith
ISNI:       0000 0001 3538 9157
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 1997
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The objectives of this study are to improve the current knowledge of the gas-surface interactions occurring upon a satellite's surface, and so determine a generic aerodynamic model to improve orbital calculations. Current knowledge of high energy gas-surface interactions is based upon the results from various terrestrial molecular beam experiments, the conditions of which are generally different to those in the orbital environment. The gas-surface interactions on a spacecraft's surface may be extrapolated from these results, with varying degrees of confidence. By the examination of the aerodynamic force experienced by a satellite, or part of a satellite, and having knowledge of the local atmospheric density and velocity, the characteristics of the gas-surface interaction may be inferred. This is the proposed basis for using orbital analysis techniques to investigate satellite aerodynamics. Low accuracy tracking data has been used for this purpose over the past few decades, to varying degrees of success. The modern high precision data now available provides an excellent opportunity to further refine the gas-surface interaction models. This study has developed and tested precise orbital analysis techniques to extract satellite aerodynamic information from SLR and DORIS tracking data. To minimise the effects of atmospheric density model errors, a multiple satellite analysis technique has been developed and successfully implemented. The conclusions of this analysis were that a highly accommodated gas-surface interaction occurred on the spacecraft surface, resulting in a broad, low speed particle emission distribution in a direction half way between diffuse and quasi-specular. This interaction results in a drag coefficient of 2.35±0.15 for an aluminium sphere at 800km altitude. The effects of variable surface conditions, due to atomic oxygen erosion, on a satellite's aerodynamics have been found to be minimal, but need to be considered in future studies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Rarefied; Atmosphere