Astrophysics and Space Science

, Volume 355, Issue 2, pp 213–223 | Cite as

Equilibria near asteroids for solar sails with reflection control devices

  • Shengping Gong
  • Junfeng Li
Original Article


Solar sails are well-suited for long-term, multiple-asteroid missions. The dynamics of solar sails near an asteroid have not yet been studied in detail. In this paper, out-of-plane artificial equilibria in a Sun-asteroid rotating frame and hovering points in a body-fixed rotating frame are studied (using a solar sail equipped with reflection control devices). First, the dynamics and the stability of out-of-plane artificial equilibria are studied as an elliptical restricted three body problem. Next, the body-fixed hovering problem is discussed as a two-body problem. Hovering flight is only possible for certain values of the latitude of the asteroid’s orbit. In addition, the feasible range of latitudes is determined for each landmark on the asteroid’s surface. The influence of the sail lightness number on the feasible range is also illustrated. Several special families of hovering points are discussed. These points include points above the equator and poles and points with an altitude equal to the radius of the synchronous orbit. In both of these types of problems, the solar sail (equipped with reflection control devices) can equilibrate over a large range of locations.


Solar sail Reflection Control Device Asteroid Artificial equilibrium Body-fixed hovering 



This work has been supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 11272004 and No. 41174025).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of AerospaceTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina

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