October 1, 2022
  • October 1, 2022

Swarm of Lightsail nanosatellites for solar system exploration

By on August 24, 2022 0

a) Schematic representation (not to scale) of the nanosatellite, including the light sail (LS) and the payload (PL). b) Temperature analysis for different laser powers (P): 10 MW, 100 MW, 1 GW and 10 GW, the veil-payload distance d(PL) is fixed at 50 cm. c) Temperature analysis using a 10 GW power laser varying the distance d(PL). d) The maps and the plot report the deformations and the average rotation, respectively, occurring on the sail of light as a function of the distance d(PL).

This paper presents a study for carrying out a space mission that uses nanosatellites driven by an external laser source hitting an optimized light sail, as a valuable technology for launching swarms of spacecraft into the solar system.

Laser-powered nanosatellites can be useful for exploration of the heliosphere and for planetary observation, if suitably equipped with sensors, or be adopted for establishing network systems when placed on specific orbits. By varying the surface-to-mass ratio (i.e. the ratio of sail area to payload weight) and laser power, it is possible to insert the spacecraft into different hyperbolic orbits relative to the Earth, thus reaching the target by means of controlled trajectories in a relatively short time.

A mission involving nanosatellites of the order of 1 kg in mass is envisaged, describing all the on-board subsystems and meeting all the requirements in terms of power and mass budget. Particular attention is paid to the telecommunications subsystem, which must offer all the necessary functionalities.

To manufacture the luminous sail, thin film technology was considered, checking the thermal stability of the sail during the thrust phase. In addition, the problem of the mechanical stability of the lighting sail was addressed, showing that the distance between the structure of the lighting sail and the payload plays a central role. Some potential applications of the proposed technology are discussed, such as heliospheric environment mapping.

Giovanni Santi, Alain J. Corso, Denis Garoli, Giuseppe Emanuele Lio, Marco Manente, Giulio Favaro, Marco Bazzan, Giampaolo Piotto, Nicola Andriolli, Lucanos Strambini, Daniele Pavarin, Leonardo Badia, Remo Proietti Zaccaria, Philip Lubin, Roberto Ragazzoni, Maria G. Pelizzo

Subjects: applied physics (physics.app-ph); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Materials Science (cond-mat.mtrl-sci); Instrumentation and Detectors (physics.ins-det); Optics (physics.optics)
Cite as: arXiv:2208.10980 [physics.app-ph] (or arXiv:2208.10980v1 [physics.app-ph] for this release)
Submission History
By: Maria Guglielmina Pelizzo Prof.
[v1] Tue Aug 23 2022 1:55:14 PM UTC (4065 KB)
Full paper https://arxiv.org/abs/2208.10980