Vol 14, No 7

Equilibria of a charged artificial satellite subject to gravitational and Lorentz torques

Yehia A. Abdel-Aziz, Muhammad Shoaib


Abstract The attitude dynamics of a rigid artificial satellite subject to a gravity gradient and Lorentz torques in a circular orbit are considered. Lorentz torque is developed on the basis of the electrodynamic effects of the Lorentz force acting on the charged satellite’s surface. We assume that the satellite is moving in a Low Earth Orbit in the geomagnetic field, which is considered to be a dipole. Our model of torque due to the Lorentz force is developed for an artificial satellite with a general shape, and the non-linear differential equations of Euler are used to describe its attitude orientation. All equilibrium positions are determined and conditions for their existence are obtained. The numerical results show that the charge q and radius ρ0 of the center of charge for the satellite provide a certain type of semi-passive control for the attitude of the satellite. The technique for this kind of control would be to increase or decrease the electrostatic screening on the satellite. The results obtained confirm that the change in charge can affect the magnitude of the Lorentz torque, which can also affect control of the satellite. Moreover, the relationship between magnitude of the Lorentz torque and inclination of the orbit is investigated.


Keywords space vehicles — atmospheric effects — celestial mechanics — kinematics and dynamics

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