# Effect of a drag force due to absorption of solar radiation on solar sail orbital dynamics

- Paper number
IAC-11,C1,3,1,x9272

- Coauthor
Prof. Roman Ya. Kezerashvili, New York City College of Technology, United States

- Coauthor
Dr. Justin F. Vazquez-Poritz, New York City College of Technology, United States

- Year
2011

- Abstract
It is well known that the reflected, absorbed and emitted portions of the solar electromagnetic radiation can be used to propel a solar sail, due to the force from the electromagnetic pressure. What is less known is that the absorbed portion of the radiation induces a drag force on the solar sail, thereby diminishing its tangential speed relative to the sun [1]. This drag force is associated with the Poynting-Robertson effect, which was predicted by Poynting in 1904 for small spherical dust particles. We consider the Poynting-Robertson effect, on various types of trajectories of solar sails. Since this effect occurs at order \begin{math}v/c\end{math}, where \begin{math}v\end{math} is the tangential speed relative to the sun, it can dominate over other special relativistic effects which occur at order \begin{math}v^2/c^2\end{math}. For a solar sail directly facing the sun in a bound heliocentric orbit, the Poynting-Robertson effect decreases its orbital speed, thereby causing it to slowly spiral towards the sun. For escape trajectories, this diminishes the cruising velocity, which can have a cumulative effect on the heliocentric distance. We also consider this effect for non-Keplerian orbits in which the solar sail is tilted in the azimuthal direction. Due to the Poynting-Robertson effect, a non-Keplerian orbit of a solar sail exhibits oscillatory behavior in the polar direction. While in principle the drag force could be counter-balanced by an extremely small tilt of the solar sail in the polar direction, periodic adjustments are more feasible. References [1] R. Ya. Kezerashvili, J. F. Vazquez-Poritz, Advances in Space Research {\bf 46} (2010) 346–361.

- Abstract document
- Manuscript document
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