Solar-sail mission design for multiple near-Earth asteroid rendezvous

Peloni, Alessandro (2018) Solar-sail mission design for multiple near-Earth asteroid rendezvous. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

Solar sailing is the use of a thin and lightweight membrane to reflect sunlight and obtain a thrust force on the spacecraft. That is, a sailcraft has a potentially-infinite specific impulse and, therefore, it is an attractive solution to reach mission goals otherwise not achievable, or very expensive in terms of propellant consumption. The recent scientific interest in near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) and the classification of some of those as potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) for the Earth stimulated the interest in their exploration. Specifically, a multiple NEA rendezvous mission is attractive for solar-sail technology demonstration as well as for improving our knowledge about NEAs. A preliminary result in a recent study showed the possibility to rendezvous three NEAs in less than ten years. According to the NASA’s NEA database, more than 12,000 asteroids are orbiting around the Earth and more than 1,000 of them are classified as PHA. Therefore, the selection of the candidates for a multiple-rendezvous mission is firstly a combinatorial problem, with more than a trillion of possible combinations with permutations of only three objects. Moreover, for each sequence, an optimal control problem should be solved to find a feasible solar-sail trajectory. This is a mixed combinatorial/optimisation problem, notoriously complex to tackle all at once.
Considering the technology constraints of the DLR/ESA Gossamer roadmap, this thesis focuses on developing a methodology for the preliminary design of a mission to visit a number of NEAs through solar sailing. This is divided into three sequential steps. First, two methods to obtain a fast and reliable trajectory model for solar sailing are studied. In particular, a shape-based approach is developed which is specific to solar-sail trajectories. As such, the shape of the trajectory that connects two points in space is designed and the control needed by the sailcraft to follow it is analytically retrieved. The second method exploits the homotopy and continuation theory to find solar-sail trajectories starting from classical low-thrust ones. Subsequently, an algorithm to search through the possible sequences of asteroids is developed. Because of the combinatorial characteristic of the problem and the tree nature of the search space, two criteria are used to reduce the computational effort needed: (a) a reduced database of asteroids is used which contains objects interesting for planetary defence and human spaceflight; and (b) a local pruning is carried out at each branch of the tree search to discard those target asteroids that are less likely to be reached by the sailcraft considered. To reduce further the computational effort needed in this step, the shape-based approach for solar sailing is used to generate preliminary trajectories within the tree search. Lastly, two algorithms are developed which numerically optimise the resulting trajectories with a refined model and ephemerides. These are designed to work with minimum input required by the user. The shape-based approach developed in the first stage is used as an initial-guess solution for the optimisation.
This study provides a set of feasible mission scenarios for informing the stakeholders on future mission options. In fact, it is shown that a large number of five-NEA rendezvous missions are feasible in a ten-year launch window, if a solar sail is used. Moreover, this study shows that the mission-related technology readiness level for the available solar-sail technology is larger than it was previously thought and that such a mission can be performed with current or at least near-term solar sail technology. Numerical examples are presented which show the ability of a solar sail both to perform challenging multiple NEA rendezvous and to change the mission en-route.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: The content of this thesis has previously appeared, or will appear, in the following publications and conferences. JOURNAL ARTICLES: Peloni, A., Ceriotti, M. and Dachwald, B., “Solar-Sail Trajectory Design for a Multiple Near-Earth-Asteroid Rendezvous Mission”, Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, Vol. 39, No. 12, 2016, pp. 2712-2724. DOI: 10.2514/1.G000470. Sullo, N., Peloni, A. and Ceriotti, M., “Low-Thrust to Solar-Sail Trajectories: A Homotopic Approach”, Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, Vol. 40, No. 11, 2017, pp. 2796-2806. DOI: 10.2514/1.G002552. Peloni, A., Dachwald, B. and Ceriotti, M., “Multiple Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous Mission: Solar-Sailing Options”, accepted for publication in Advances in Space Research. DOI: 10.1016/j.asr.2017.10.017. Peloni, A., Rao, A. V. and Ceriotti, M., “Automated Trajectory Optimizer for Solar Sailing (ATOSS)”, Aerospace Science and Technology, Vol. 72, 2018, pp. 465-475. DOI: 10.1016/j.ast.2017.11.025. Grundmann, J. T., Bauer, W., Biele, J., Boden, R. C., Ceriotti, M., Cordero, F., Dachwald, B., Dumont, E., Grimm, C. D., Herčík, D., Ho, T. M., Jahnke, R., Koch, A. D., Koncz, A., Krause, C., Lange, C., Lichtenheldt, R., Maiwald, V., Mikschl, T., Mikulz, E., Montenegro, S., Pelivan, I., Peloni, A., Quantius, D., Reershemius, S., Renger, T., Riemann, J., Ruffer, M., Sasaki, K., Schmitz, N., Seboldt, W., Seefeldt, P., Spietz, P., Spröwitz, T., Sznajder, M., Tardivel, S., Tóth, N., Wejmo, E., Wolff, F., Ziach, C., “Capabilities of GOSSAMER-1 derived Small Spacecraft Solar Sails carrying MASCOT-derived Nanolanders for In-Situ Surveying of NEAs”, accepted for publication in Acta Astronautica. DOI: 10.1016/j.actaastro.2018.03.019. CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS: Peloni, A., Ceriotti, M. and Dachwald, B., “Preliminary Trajectory Design of a Multiple NEO Rendezvous Mission Through Solar Sailing”, 65th International Astronautical Congress, IAF Paper IAC-14-C1.9.7, Toronto, Canada, 2014. Peloni, A., Ceriotti, M. and Dachwald, B., “Solar-Sailing Trajectory Design for Close-up NEA Observations Mission”, 4th IAA Planetary Defense Conference - PDC 2015, IAA Paper IAA-PDC-15-P-19, Frascati, Italy, 2015. Sullo, N., Peloni, A. and Ceriotti, M., “From Low Thrust to Solar Sailing: A Homotopic Approach”, 26th AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Meeting, AAS Paper 16-426, Napa, CA, USA, 2016. Peloni, A., Wolz, D., Ceriotti, M. and Althöfer, I., “Construction and Verification of a Solution of the 8th Global Trajectory Optimization Competition Problem. Team 13: GlasgowJena+”, 26th AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Meeting, AAS Paper 16-425, Napa, CA, USA, 2016. Grundmann, J. T., Boden, R. C., Ceriotti, M., Dachwald, B., Dumont, E., Grimm, C. D., Lange, C., Lichtenheldt, R., Pelivan, I., Peloni, A., Riemann, J., Spröwitz, T. and Tardivel, S., “Soil to Sail - Asteroid Landers on Near-Term Sailcraft as an Evolution of the GOSSAMER Small Spacecraft Solar Sail Concept for In-Situ Characterization”, 5th IAA Planetary Defense Conference - PDC 2017, IAA Paper IAA-PDC-17-05-19, Tokyo, Japan, 2017. Peloni, A., Dachwald, B. and Ceriotti, M., “Multiple NEA Rendezvous Mission: Solar Sailing Options”, The Fourth International Symposium on Solar Sailing 2017, Paper 17017, Kyoto, Japan, 2017. Grundmann, J. T., Bauer, W., Biele, J., Boden, R. C., Ceriotti, M., Cordero, F., Dachwald, B., Dumont, E., Grimm, C. D., Herčík, D., Ho, T. M., Jahnke, R., Koch, A. D., Koncz, A., Lichtenheldt, R., Maiwald, V., Mikschl, T., Mikulz, E., Montenegro, S., Pelivan, I., Peloni, A., Quantius, D., Reershemius, S., Renger, T., Riemann, J., Ruffer, M., Schmitz, N., Seboldt, W., Seefeldt, P., Spietz, P., Spröwitz, T., Sznajder, M., Tardivel, S., Tóth, N., Wejmo, E., Wolff, F., Ziach, C., “Small Spacecraft Solar Sailing for Small Solar System Body Multiple Rendezvous and Landing”, accepted for 2018 IEEE Aerospace Conference, IEEE Paper 2360, Big Sky, MT, USA, 2018. CONFERENCE AND WORKSHOP PRESENTATIONS: Peloni, A. and Ceriotti, M., “Solar Sailing Multiple NEO Rendezvous Mission: Preliminary Results”, First Stardust Global Virtual Workshop (SGVW-1) on Asteroids and Space Debris, Glasgow, Scotland, UK, 2014. Presentation available online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-uxCvo09Hc [retrieved 06 June 2017]. Peloni, A., “Solar Sailing: How to Travel on a Light Beam”, 1st Space Glasgow Research Conference, Glasgow, Scotland, UK, 2014. Presentation available online at https://www.gla.ac.uk/media/media_375002_en.pptx [retrieved 10 October 2017]. Peloni, A., Rao, A. V. and Ceriotti, M., “ATOSS: Automated Trajectory Optimiser for Solar Sailing”, Fourth European Optimisation in Space Engineering (OSE) Workshop, Bremen, Germany, 2017.
Keywords: Trajectory optimisation, mission design, solar sail, near-Earth asteroid, multiple rendezvous, numerical optimisation, sequence search, astrodynamics, space flight dynamics, celestial mechanics.
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Q Science > QA Mathematics
Q Science > QC Physics
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Aerospace Sciences
Funder's Name: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Supervisor's Name: Ceriotti, Dr. Matteo
Date of Award: 2018
Depositing User: Dr. Alessandro Peloni
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-8901
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2018 13:47
Last Modified: 19 Apr 2018 16:03
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/8901
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