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Utilization of an H-reversal trajectory of a solar sail for asteroid deflection

Sheng-Ping Gong, Jun-Feng Li, Xiang-Yuan Zeng


Abstract Near Earth Asteroids have a possibility of impacting the Earth and always represent a threat. This paper proposes a way of changing the orbit of the asteroid to avoid an impact. A solar sail evolving in an H-reversal trajectory is utilized for asteroid deflection. Firstly, the dynamics of the solar sail and the characteristics of the H-reversal trajectory are analyzed. Then, the attitude of the solar sail is optimized to guide the sail to impact the target asteroid along an H-reversal trajectory. The impact velocity depends on two important parameters: the minimum solar distance along the trajectory and lightness number of the solar sail. A larger lightness number and a smaller solar distance lead to a higher impact velocity. Finally, the deflection capability of a solar sail impacting the asteroid along the H-reversal trajectory is discussed. The results show that a 10 kg solar sail with a lead-time of one year can move Apophis out of a 600-m keyhole area in 2029 to eliminate the possibility of its resonant return in 2036.


Keywords asteroid—techniques: miscellaneous— solar sail

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