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Shape reconstruction of planar flexible spacecraft structures using distributed sun sensors

Talon, Thibaud and Chen, Yulu Luke and Pellegrino, Sergio (2021) Shape reconstruction of planar flexible spacecraft structures using distributed sun sensors. Acta Astronautica, 180 . pp. 328-339. ISSN 0094-5765. doi:10.1016/j.actaastro.2020.12.056.

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Flexible planar spacecraft, such as solar sails, phased antenna arrays and space solar power satellites vary their shape in flight and also may not have a known shape after deployment. To allow applications where spacecraft shapes are measured to allow the closed-loop correction of flight or payload parameters, this paper presents a method for measuring shapes with miniature sun sensors embedded within the structure. Two algorithms to reconstruct the shape of the structure from the two local angles to the sun are presented; the first one is geometry-based, whereas the second one uses a finite element model of the structure. Both algorithms are validated on a 1.3 m x 0.25 m structure with 14 novel miniature sun sensors with an accuracy of 5°, developed for the present research. The structure was reconstructed to an accuracy better than one millimeter by both algorithms, after undergoing bending and torsional deformations. While the geometrically based algorithm is fast and accurate for small deformations, the finite element based algorithm performs better overall, especially for larger deformations.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Talon, Thibaud0000-0002-8240-1101
Pellegrino, Sergio0000-0001-9373-3278
Additional Information:© 2021 IAA. Published by Elsevier. Received 4 August 2020, Revised 25 December 2020, Accepted 29 December 2020, Available online 1 January 2021. Suggestions from the Space Solar Power Project team at Caltech are acknowledged. This research was supported by the Space Solar Power Project at Caltech. The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.
Group:GALCIT, Space Solar Power Project
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Space Solar Power ProjectUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Surface reconstruction; Sun sensor; Sensor network
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210104-164231438
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Thibaud Talon, Yulu Luke Chen, Sergio Pellegrino, Shape reconstruction of planar flexible spacecraft structures using distributed sun sensors, Acta Astronautica, Volume 180, 2021, Pages 328-339, ISSN 0094-5765,
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:107307
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:05 Jan 2021 16:21
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 19:01

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