Error Analysis of Method for Calculation of Non-Contact Impact on Space Debris from Ion Thruster

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Alpatov A.P., Fokov A.A., Khoroshylov S.V. & Savchuk A.P. (2016). Error Analysis of Method for Calculation of Non-Contact Impact on Space Debris from Ion Thruster. Mechanics, Materials Science & Engineering, Vol 5. doi:10.13140/RG.2.1.3986.1361

Authors: Alpatov A.P., Fokov A.A., Khoroshylov S.V., Savchuk A.P.

ABSTRACT. A simplified approach to determine the impact on a space-debris object (a target) from the ion thruster of a spacecraft (a shepherd), which was proposed before in the context the ion beam shepherd technology for space debris removal, was considered. This simplified approach is based on the assumption of the validity of the self-similar model of the plasma distribution in the thruster plume. A method for the calculation of the force impact using the information about the contour of the central projection of the object on a plane, which is perpendicular to the ion beam axis, was proposed within the framework of this model.  The errors of this method, including the errors caused by an inaccuracy of its realization, are analyzed.  The results of the analysis justify the admissibility of the application of the specified approach within the self-similar model of the plasma distribution. The preliminary conclusion has been made that this simplified approach can be used to control the relative motion of the shepherd – target system as well. This conclusion is based on the results of the simulation of the system motion, when the “real” value of the thruster impact is calculated by the direct integration of the elementary impacts over the target surface and the value of the same impact used in the control algorithms is determined using the information about the contour of the target. A number of factors such as the orbital motion of the system, external perturbations, and the attitude motion of the shepherd were neglected in the simplified model which was used for the simulation. These factors and errors in the interaction model are necessary to consider during a more detailed analysis of this approach. The analysis of the calculation errors presented in this paper can be used during implementation of the ion beam shepherd technology for active space debris removal.

Keywords: space debris removal, ion beam shepherd technology, spacecraft – space debris object system, contour of the central projection, simplified calculation of the impact, error analysis, simulation of the relative motion

DOI 10.13140/RG.2.1.3986.1361

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