UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Attitude control of spinning satellites using environmental forces Pande, Kailash Chandra


The feasibility of utilizing the environmental forces for three-axis librational damping and attitude control of spinning satellites is investigated in detail. An appreciation of the environmental influence is first gained through a librational dynamics study of spinning, axisymmetric, cylindrical satellites in the solar radiation pressure field. The highly nonlinear, nonautonomous, coupled equations of motion are analyzed approximately using the method of variation of parameters. The closed form solution proves to be quite useful in locating periodic solutions and resonance characteristics of the system. A numerical parametric analysis, involving large amplitude motion, establishes the effect of the radiation pressure to be substantial and destabilizing. Next, a possibility of utilizing this adverse influence to advantage through judiciously located rotatable control surfaces is explored. A controller configuration for a dual-spin spacecraft is analyzed first. The governing equations, in the absence of a known exact solution, are solved numerically to evaluate the effect of system parameters on the performance of the control system. The available control moments are found to be sufficient to compensate for the rotor spin decay, thus dispensing with the necessity of energy sources maintaining the spin rate. The controller is able to damp extremely severe disturbances in a fraction of an orbit and is capable of imparting arbitrary orientations to a satellite, thus permitting it to undertake diverse missions. The development of an efficient yet structurally simple controller configuration is then considered. A logical approach for solar controller design is proposed which suggests a four-plate configuration. Its performance in conjunction with a bang-bang control law is studied in detail. The utilization of maximum available control moments leads to a substantial improvement of the damping characteristics. Attention is then focussed on using the earth's magnetic field interaction with onboard dipoles for attitude control. Magnetic torquing, however, is unable to provide first order pitch control in near equatorial orbital planes. The shortcoming is overcome by hybridizing the concepts of magnetic and solar control. Two magnetic controller models, employing a single rotatable dipole or two fixed dipoles, are proposed in conjunction with a solar pitch controller. The system performance is evaluated for a wide range of system parameters and initial conditions. Although high spin rates lend considerable gyroscopic stiffness to the spacecraft, the controllers continue to be quite effective even in the absence of any spin. Even with extremely severe disturbances, damping times of the order of a few orbital degrees are attainable. As before, the concept enables a satellite to change the desired attitude in orbit. The effectiveness of the controllers at high altitudes having been established, the next logical step was to extend the analysis to near-earth satellites in free molecular environment. A hybrid control system, using the solar pressure at high altitudes and the aerodynamic forces near perigee, is proposed. The influence of important system parameters on the bang-bang operation of the controller is analyzed. The concept appears to be quite effective in damping the satellite librations. Both the orbit normal and the local vertical orientations of the axis of symmetry of the satellite are attainable. However, for arbitrary pointing of the symmetry axis, small limit cycle oscillation about the desired final orientation results. Finally, the time-optimal control, through solar radiation pressure, of an unsymmetrical satellite executing planar pitch librations is examined analytically. The switching criterion, synthesized for the linear case, is found to be quite accurate even when the system is subjected to large disturbances. Throughout, the semi-passive character of the system promises an increased life-span for a satellite.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.