Aurora project: estimation of the optical sail parameters

G. Vulpetti, S. Scaglione

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)


The thrust model for computing a sailcraft trajectory contains thermo-optical parameters that are averages over the spectrum of the incident photons, namely, with respect to energy, intensity and polarization. These parameters are not observables and could change considerably from a sail to sail for a number of practical reasons. The mission analysis for a sailcraft is a progressive task from a simple trajectory propagator to the orbit determination. Aurora sailcraft mission analysis has advanced another step forward by processing experimental data related to aluminium. Once appropriate fitting functions have been selected, differential specular and diffused reflectance and differential absorptance have been averaged over incident solar spectrum, assumed a Planckian here. The result has been to get incident-angle-dependent optical parameters more reliable than mere literature values. The procedure has entailed the computation of grids of complicated definite integrals. They are particularly important during the trajectory optimization of the Aurora solar flyby, a very sensitive profile that would allow the sailcraft to achieve cruise speeds ranging from 12 to 20 AU/yr.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123 - 132
Number of pages10
JournalActa Astronautica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1999


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering

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