Modeling of tethered satellite formations using graph theory

Martin Birkelund Larsen, Roy S Smith, Mogens Blanke

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Abstract

Tethered satellite formations have recently gained increasing attention due to future mission proposals. Several different formations have been investigated for their dynamic properties and control schemes have been suggested. Formulating the equations of motion and investigation which geometries could form stable formations in space are cumbersome when done at a case to case basis, and a common framework providing a basic model of the dynamics of tethered satellite formations can therefore be advantageous. This paper suggests the use of graph theoretical quantities to describe a tethered satellite formation and proposes a method to deduce the equations of motion for the attitude dynamics of the formation in a compact form. The use of graph theory and Lagrange mechanics together allows a broad class of formations to be described using the same framework. A method is stated for finding stationary configurations and an upper limit of their number is determined. The method is shown to be valid for general tethered satellite formations that form a tree structure.
Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Astronautica
Volume69
Issue number7-8
Pages (from-to)470-479
ISSN0094-5765
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords

  • Tethered satellite formation
  • Stationary configurations
  • Equations of motion
  • Graph theory

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