The need to limit the population of artificial debris in the near-Earth space motivates the development of efficient deorbiting propulsion systems. Electrodynamic tethers offer a valid and attractive alternative to conventional chemical thrusters since they impose a penalty in terms of deorbiting time rather than additional launch mass. We have designed a low-cost demonstration mission, where a reduced-scale deorbiting system will be carried, deployed and controlled by a microsatellite. Numerical simulations show that the proposed configuration of the electrodynamic system allows, even in absence of active tether current control, to maintain a stable tether attitude motion. This is obtained through a careful combination of bare and insulated tether segments. When active current control is applied, the tether libration angles are bounded to within 10 degrees. The closed-loop control laws make use of the in-plane and out-of-plane libration angles and rates, which are estimated through a newly developed extended Kalman filter. The estimator’s measurements are provided by two three-axis magnetometers mounted on the spacecraft structure and at the lower tether end-point, respectively. We show that this micro system is able to deorbit a LEO carrier spacecraft in about two months, demonstrating salient features of tether technologies and associated electrodynamic effects.

Small Mission Design for Testing In-Orbit an Electrodynamic Tether Deorbiting System

TORTORA, PAOLO;
2006

Abstract

The need to limit the population of artificial debris in the near-Earth space motivates the development of efficient deorbiting propulsion systems. Electrodynamic tethers offer a valid and attractive alternative to conventional chemical thrusters since they impose a penalty in terms of deorbiting time rather than additional launch mass. We have designed a low-cost demonstration mission, where a reduced-scale deorbiting system will be carried, deployed and controlled by a microsatellite. Numerical simulations show that the proposed configuration of the electrodynamic system allows, even in absence of active tether current control, to maintain a stable tether attitude motion. This is obtained through a careful combination of bare and insulated tether segments. When active current control is applied, the tether libration angles are bounded to within 10 degrees. The closed-loop control laws make use of the in-plane and out-of-plane libration angles and rates, which are estimated through a newly developed extended Kalman filter. The estimator’s measurements are provided by two three-axis magnetometers mounted on the spacecraft structure and at the lower tether end-point, respectively. We show that this micro system is able to deorbit a LEO carrier spacecraft in about two months, demonstrating salient features of tether technologies and associated electrodynamic effects.
2006
P. Tortora; L. Somenzi; L. Iess; R. Licata
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/44199
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