Flower constellations as rigid objects in space
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This paper summarizes the findings and the research status on Flower Constellations, a novel and revolutionary way to design satellite constellations that has been discovered and proposed at Texas A&M University. The theory of Flower Constellations is a natural consequence of the theory of compatible (or resonant) orbits. The most surprising aspect of the Flower Constellations is that the satellite distribution identifies the edges of rotating figures whose shapes are time invariant. The complex synchronized dynamics of the satellites preserves the shape of a space object. The whole Flower Constellation is an axial-symmetric rigid object in space that is spinning with prescribed angular velocity. The shape of this object can be deformed by playing with the Flower Constellation design parameters, and the object's axis of symmetry can be set to point to any inertial direction. In particular, when the axis of symmetry is aligned with the Earth's spin axis, the J2 linear-dominant effect is identical for all the orbits. In this case, the J2 effect deforms the object shape while preserving the axial-symmetry.
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