Averaged solar radiation pressure modeling for high area-to-mass ratio objects in geosynchronous orbits

Roshan Thomas Eapen, Carolin Frueh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Space Situational Awareness, among other efforts, is aimed at providing a comprehensive and accurate knowledge of all Earth-orbiting objects. This is done by maintaining a catalog of space objects’ states (position and velocity). In the absence of observations, the orbits of these objects need to be numerically simulated. In this work, we study the high area-to-mass ratio class of objects which are sensitive to very small changes in perturbations, particularly the attitude dependent solar radiation pressure. This attitude dependency renders the orbit-attitude motion to be coupled. Traditionally, a cannonball model would be used to model these perturbations. While this is acceptable for an attitude stabilized active satellite, for non-functional space debris, the cannonball model does not seem to approximate the true dynamics accurately. Hence, a more precise, albeit computationally expensive propagation model needs to be developed, which warrants a better modeling of the perturbations in the near-Earth space. This work introduces a new model that averages the solar radiation pressure force experienced by multi-layer insulation foil in geosynchronous orbits. While speeding up the computational time by 66%, this model produces errors that are small enough to stay within the field of view of surveying telescopes over the propagation period of four days. The approach is compared with other existing models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-141
Number of pages15
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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