Electrodynamic tethers provide a very promising propulsion system for de-orbiting of spent upper stages or LEO satellites. In this application, the Lorentz force generated by the interaction between the current in the wire and the geomagnetic field produces an electrodynamic drag leading to a fast orbital decay. The attractiveness of tether system lies especially in their capability to operate with uncontrollable satellites and in the modest mass requirement. The need for significant along-track forces leads however to the onset of an undesirable torque which, if not controlled, may drive the system into a dangerous instability. The electrodynamic torque determines in-plane and out-of-plane librations whose amplitude depends upon the current in the wire, mass distribution and system dimensions. Even more important, this torque is modulated along the orbit due to the changing magnetic field and ionospheric plasma density, giving rise to forced oscillations. The counteracting (and stabilizing) gravity grad ient torque is generally to small to ensure stability in typical, strongly non-symmetrical mass distributions, where a massive satellite or upper stage is attached at the lower end and a light electron collecting device (or passive ballast mass) is deployed a few kilometers above. Reducing the electron current or increasing the mass at the upper end are both unattractive solutions. In this paper we show how the electrodynamic torque pumps energy into the system (finally leading to large librations angles) and indicate that many proposed configurations are intrinsically unstable. Our results point out the need for a control strategy. Fortunately, the librations amplitudes can be bruited by acting on the current flowing in the wire Our model of a rigid, conductive tether shows that a control based upon nmely current switch-off, using energy criteria, is indeed effective and simple to implement. The resultant dutycycles are satisfactory and affect only marginally the deorbiting times. © 2001 International A stronautical Federation. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.
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|Titolo:||Stability and control of electrodynamic tethers for de-orbiting applications|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2001|
|Appartiene alla tipologia:||01a Articolo in rivista|