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Proceedings Paper

Harnessing solar pressure to slew and point large infrared space telescopes
Author(s): Simona Errico; Roger P. Angel; Paul D. Calvert; Neville Woof
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Paper Abstract

Large astronomical Gossamer telescopes in space will need to employ large solar shields to safeguard the optics from solar radiation. These types of telescopes demand accurate controls to maintain telescope pointing over long integration periods. We propose an active solar shield system that harnesses radiation pressure to accurately slew and acquire new targets without the need for reaction wheels or thrusters. To provide the required torques, the solar shield is configured as an inverted, 4-sided pyramidal roof. The sloped roof interior surfaces are covered with hinged “tiles” made from piezoelectric film bimorphs with specular metallized surfaces. Nominally, the tiles lie flat against the roof and the sunlight is reflected outward equally from all sloped surfaces. However, when the tiles on one roof pitch are raised, the pressure balance is upset and the sunshade is pushed to one side. By judicious selection of the tiles and control of their lift angle, the solar pressure can be harvested to stabilize the spacecraft orientation or to change its angular momentum. A first order conceptual design performance analysis and the results from the experimental design, fabrication and testing of piezoelectric bimorph hinge elements will be presented. Next phase challenges in engineering design, materials technology, and systems testing will be discussed.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 March 2003
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 4850, IR Space Telescopes and Instruments, (5 March 2003); doi: 10.1117/12.461766
Show Author Affiliations
Simona Errico, Univ. of Arizona (United States)
Roger P. Angel, Steward Observatory/Univ. of Arizona (United States)
Paul D. Calvert, Steward Observatory/Univ. of Arizona (United States)
Neville Woof, Steward Observatory/Univ. of Arizona (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4850:
IR Space Telescopes and Instruments
John C. Mather, Editor(s)

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