Solar Sail Planar Multireversal Periodic Orbits Academic Article uri icon


  • The subjectofthis paperisanew classofplanar non-Keplerian orbits made possiblebyrelatively high performance solar sails. The class of noncircular orbits is symmetric with respect to the sun-perihelion line and the orbital angular momentum reverses four times over one period. The irregular orbital shape guarantees two quasi-heliostationary conditions near the reversal points in the neighborhood of the aphelion points. The class of periodic orbits is determined by solving a time optimal control problem using an indirect method. Three typical orbits of different shapes, obtained by varying the boundary constraints, are presented along with their orbital parameters. Two of the main potential mission scenarios presented are based on the characteristics of the multireversal orbit. A brief comparison between the double angular momentum reversal orbit and the multireversal orbit is conducted to show the advantages of the multireversal orbit. Orbital period variation as a function of the sail lightness number and perihelion distance is investigated in detail to provide references for future engineering designs. Copyright 2013 by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc. All rights reserved.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Zeng, X., Alfriend, K. T., & Vadali, S. R.

citation count

  • 31

complete list of authors

  • Zeng, Xiangyuan||Alfriend, KT||Vadali, SR

publication date

  • March 2014