New computerized management approach makes use of spacecraft photo voltaic panels to achieve desired orbit at Mars

New automatic control technique uses spacecraft solar panels to reach desired orbit at Mars
Illustration of (a) present aerobraking with static, perpendicular photo voltaic panels, and (b) the proposed idea utilizing rotating photo voltaic panels to actively management the trajectory. Credit score: College of Illinois Dept. of Aerospace Engineering

A satellite tv for pc on a science mission to Mars goals for a low-altitude orbit, however the decrease the orbit, the extra propellant is required to enter orbit when arriving from Earth. To avoid wasting propellant, a way known as aerobraking makes use of a small propulsive maneuver for orbit insertion to enter a big orbit; the satellite tv for pc then makes many passes by the higher environment, utilizing drag on the photo voltaic panels to scale back the dimensions of the orbit just a little bit every go till the orbit is the specified dimension for science operations. This aerobraking approach requires three to 6 months to finish and requires near-constant supervision by a floor crew on Earth.

Aerospace engineers on the College of Illinois Urbana-Champaign developed a manner to make use of articulated photo voltaic panels to steer the throughout aerobraking, decreasing the variety of passes wanted, leading to potential financial savings in propellant, time, and cash.

“If we will rotate the photo voltaic panels, we will management how a lot drag is generated and we will really steer throughout the atmospheric passes to manage heating and power depletion,” stated AE Professor Zach Putnam. “This implies we will fly a lot nearer to operational constraints, and aerobrake a lot quicker.”

Putnam’s Ph.D. scholar Giusy Falcone used the satellite tv for pc’s potential to rotate their photo voltaic panels and calculated how the panels might be used to optimize and management the drag.

“Giusy developed a real-time algorithm that you simply may consider as an autopilot that makes use of data from the spacecraft’s onboard navigation system to find out the angle of the photo voltaic panels in actual time, based mostly on present atmospheric situations,” Putnam stated.

The first limiting issue throughout flight is the temperature of the photo voltaic panels. When a satellite tv for pc hits the molecules within the Mars environment, the friction heats up the panels, and over-heating the photo voltaic panels can kill the spacecraft.

“With the ability to steer the satellite tv for pc throughout every atmospheric go permits us to make sure we do not over temperature the whereas flying a lot nearer to the thermal restrict. This can be a massive enchancment. As a substitute of aerobraking for 3 to 6 months, it’d solely take a few weeks.”

This research is about automating only one go by the environment. This course of could be repeated many instances throughout a whole aerobraking marketing campaign, Putnam stated.

He defined that because the satellite tv for pc’s orbit will get smaller and smaller, the time it takes to finish one orbit will get shorter till the orbits are so quick that there is not time to transmit data from the spacecraft to Earth, look forward to a choice, then ship instructions again to make a correction.

“As a result of it’s computerized, Giusy’s algorithm is especially useful at that final stage when the orbits are very fast, however the algorithm can be utilized for the complete course of.”

That is the primary piece towards growing an autonomous functionality for aerobraking that has implications for decreasing value and mission danger on a a lot bigger scale.

“The journey out to Mars takes someplace between six to 9 months. We will not actually change that, however we predict we will shorten the time it takes to aerobrake to a low-altitude ,” Putnam stated. “And the propellant onboard we save can be utilized to do different issues like preserve the spacecraft alive longer.”

Putnam stated the present aerobraking methodology can also be operationally intensive with a floor crew working 24 hours a day for about six months.

“You’ll be able to think about how costly it’s for a floor crew working across the clock,” he stated. “There may be additionally restricted bandwidth for floor stations that may speak to Mars. We’ve got solely three they usually’re oversubscribed as it’s.

“This software program would vastly scale back our reliance on floor stations. If we will automate it onboard and solely should test in with the spacecraft as soon as every week, that might actually deliver prices down. And, it might be performed by many satellites on the identical time.”

The research, “Vitality Depletion Steerage for Aerobraking Atmospheric Passes,” was written by Giusy Falcone and Zach Putnam. It’s printed within the Journal of Steerage, Management, and Dynamics.

ExoMars prepares to dip into the Mars environment to achieve its last orbit

Extra data:
Giusy Falcone et al, Vitality Depletion Steerage for Aerobraking Atmospheric Passes, Journal of Steerage, Management, and Dynamics (2021). DOI: 10.2514/1.G006171

New computerized management approach makes use of spacecraft photo voltaic panels to achieve desired orbit at Mars (2022, January 19)
retrieved 19 January 2022

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