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Title: Three-axis attitude control of solar sails utilising reflectivity control devices
Author: Theodorou, Theodoros
ISNI:       0000 0004 5992 2886
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2016
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Solar sails are spacecraft that utilise the Solar Radiation Pressure, the force generated by impinging photons, to propel themselves. Conventional actuators are not suitable for controlling the attitude of solar sails therefore specific attitude control methods have been devised to tackle this. One of these methods is to change the centre of pressure with respect to the center of mass thus creating a torque. Reflectivity Control Devices (RCDs) have been proposed and successfully used to change the centre of pressure. Current methods that utilise RCDs have control authority over two axis only with no ability to control the torque about the normal of the sail surface. This thesis extends the state of the art and demonstrates 3-axis control by generating arbitrary torque vectors within a convex polyhedron. Two different RCD materials are considered, transmission and diffusion technologies both compatible with the proposed concept. A number of metrics have been developed which facilitate the comparison of different sail configurations. One of these metics is the sun map which is a graphic representation of the sun angles for which control authority is maintained. An iterative design process is presented which makes use of the metrics developed and aids in the design of a sail which meets the mission requirements and constraints. Moreover, the effects of different parameters on the performance of the proposed control concept are discussed. For example it is shown that by alternating the angle between the edge and middle RCDs the control authority increases. The concept's scalability has been investigated and a hybrid control scheme has been devised which makes use of both RCDs and reaction wheels. The RCDs are complemented by the reaction wheels to achieve higher slew rates while in turn the RCDs desaturate the reaction wheels. Finally, a number of simulations are conducted to verify the validity of the proposed concept.
Supervisor: Palmer, Phil Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available