Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Dual-spin or gyrostat satellites subject to gravitational torques can adopt an infinite number of possible equilibria obtained by adjusting the magnitude and direction of the rotor angular momentum within the satellite. This paper seeks to answer the question, which of these equilibria is best — and best is chosen here to mean most stable in the sense that the energy required to perturb the orientation by any prescribed amount is maximized, i.e. the smallest eigenvalue of the Hessian matrix of the dynamic potential energy is maximized. Using this criterion, it is shown that the conventional configuration for dual-spin satellites with the angular momentum of the rotor, the spacecraft principal axis of maximum moment of inertia, and the perpendicular to the orbital plane coincident is not always the best orientation. The optimal configuration is shown to have the minimum moment of inertia always aligned with the local vertical, but the principal axis of maximum moment of inertia, shifts from the perpendicular to the orbital plane to lying in-plane as the angular momentum of the rotor is increased from zero (corresponding to a rigid gravity gradient satellite) to some sufficiently large value which is determined as a function of parameters. For angular momentum greater than this value, global optimality is established analytically, and otherwise local optimality is proved analytically with global optimality demonstrated numerically.
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