3rd Year PhD Student
Advisor: Hanspeter Schaub
Lab: Autonomous Vehicle Systems Lab
I will explore spacecraft charging in lunar orbit and look into adapted guidance and control strategies that mitigate the effects of spacecraft charging on on-orbit servicing, assembly and manufacturing (OSAM) operations. Depending on space weather conditions, spacecraft can charge to high electric potentials in orbit. In addition to potentially hazardous electrostatic discharges, this results in electrostatic forces and torques that perturb the motion of the two spacecraft. When an uncooperative target satellite is approached by a servicing satellite, the target starts to tumble due to the electrostatic torques if its center of mass is not aligned with its center of charge. The servicer needs to match this rotation to maintain a constant relative orientation with the target during rendezvous and docking. This increases fuel consumption and complicates servicing operations. By taking into account the plasma wakes generated by the spacecraft and by using guidance strategies that consider the electrostatic forces and torques, the effects of such perturbations can be reduced. Considering the Lunar Gateway, upcoming Artemis missions, and other science and servicing missions around the Moon, this is a very relevant topic due to the increasing number of rendezvous and docking operations in lunar orbit that come with these missions.