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On the librational dynamics of damped satellites Tschann, Christian Aime

Abstract

The thesis examines diverse methods of damping the librational motion of earth-orbiting satellites. Starting with passive stabilization, two classical mechanisms for energy dissipation are studied, for performance comparison, when executing librations in the orbital plane. The first model, consisting of a sliding mass restricted to relative translational motion with respect to the main satellite body, establishes the suitability of various approaches to the problem in circular orbit. In this case, numerical and analog methods do not readily yield information on the influence of parameters and approximate methods are found to be particularly helpful. Butenin's method based on averaging techniques predicts the response of the satellite with good accuracy for small damping constant while the exact solution to the linearized equations provides optimum damper characteristics for motion in the small. A comparison of the sliding mass damper model with a damper boom mechanism involving only relative rotational displacements, is then performed for equal equilibrium inertias of the damping devices. It indicates that, for optimum transient tuning, the damper boom would have a better time-index while the sliding mass would lead to smaller steady-state amplitudes for low eccentricity orbits. A numerical example using GEOS-A satellite data illustrates the outcome of the study when applied to physical situations. A stability analysis is also included which uses Routh and Lyapunov approaches to determine the domain of parameters leading to asymptotic stability, as well as numerical methods to define the bounds on stable initial disturbances: it is found that for most practical applications, the stability contour in circular orbit is close to that of the undamped case. How-ever, for eccentric trajectory, the amount of damping critically affects asymptotic stability. The next model, which involves active stabilization, uses solar radiation pressure to achieve planar librational control of a satellite orbiting in the plane of the ecliptic. This is obtained by adjusting the position of the center of pressure with respect to the center of mass through a controller depending on a linear combination of librational velocity and displacement. The motion in circular orbit is; first investigated through the W.K.B. method. Although the approximate equation involves an infinity of turning points, only a few of them are required to evaluate the damped behaviour of the system. A comparison of the analytical results with a numerical integration of the exact equation of motion shows good agreement only over a limited range of parameters and, therefore, the latter is used to complete the study for circular and elliptic cases. The concept leads to great versatility in positioning a satellite at any angle with respect to the local vertical. Also, high transient ; performance is observed about local vertical and horizontal and the dichotomous property of good transient associated with poor steady-state inherent to passive damping can be avoided by selecting appropriate controller parameters. An example is included which substantiates the feasibility of the configuration. Finally, the attention is directed towards the influence of gravity torques on the stability of damped axisymmetric dual-spin satellites. The nutation damper mounted on the slowly-spinning section is of the pendulum type. For this section rotating at orbital angular rate, application of the Kelvin-Tait-Chetaev theorem indicates that the asymptotic stability region reduces basically to the mainly positive stable spin region of the undamped case. However, some care is required depending upon the shape and natural frequency of the damper. If the damper section rotates at a much higher rate than the orbital one, torque-free motion need only be considered for short term pre-dictions. Stability charts corresponding to this case, given for comparison, emphasize the effect of gravity.

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