Date of Award
Master of Science in Astronautical Engineering
Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Robert A. Bettinger, PhD
A method of augmenting on-orbit lighting conditions for rendezvous and proximity operations through the novel use of solar reflectors is presented. Natural lighting conditions on-orbit pose extreme challenges to these already complex missions. This research summarizes and applies the historical basis of solar reflectors to the proximity operations issues encountered today. Building on this past research, a simulation has been created to test the efficacy of a solar reflector constellation in facilitating less complex servicing/inspection missions. Initial testing has shown promising results for low mass membrane mirrors in augmenting illumination conditions with particular benefit in the geosynchronous orbital regime. Through the course of this research a novel method of initial orbit determination has also been developed. By observing the shadow of a RSO projected onto the surface of the Earth or a similar body, the inertial position vector of the RSO can be calculated analytically. A computer vision-based program was created and tested to examine the accuracy and applicability of this method. Initial results are promising; however, significant further work must be accomplished to filter and weight measurements.
DTIC Accession Number
Dombrowski, Daniel M., "Investigation of Mirror Satellite Concept to Augment Natural Lighting Conditions on Orbit" (2021). Theses and Dissertations. 5131.