Vol 15, No 1

Attitude dynamics and control of spacecraft using geomagnetic Lorentz force

Yehia A. Abdel-Aziz, Muhammad Shoaib


Abstract Attitude stabilization of a charged rigid spacecraft in Low Earth Orbit using torques due to Lorentz force in pitch and roll directions is considered. A spacecraft that generates an electrostatic charge on its surface in the Earth’s magnetic field will be subject to perturbations from the Lorentz force. The Lorentz force acting on an electrostatically charged spacecraft may provide a useful thrust for controlling a spacecraft’s orientation. We assume that the spacecraft is moving in the Earth’s magnetic field in an elliptical orbit under the effects of gravitational, geomagnetic and Lorentz torques. The magnetic field of the Earth is modeled as a non-tilted dipole. A model incorporating all Lorentz torques as a function of orbital elements has been developed on the basis of electric and magnetic fields. The stability of the spacecraft orientation is investigated both analytically and numerically. The existence and stability of equilibrium positions is investigated for different values of the charge to mass ratio (α∗). Stable orbits are identified for various values of α∗. The main parameters for stabilization of the spacecraft are α∗ and the difference between the components of the moment of inertia for the spacecraft.


Keywords space vehicles — atmospheric effects — celestial mechanics — kine- matics and dynamics

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