Survey of the electrostatic tractor research for reorbiting passive GEO space objects
electrostatics, geosynchronous orbit, debris, control
The number of operational satellites and debris objects in the valuable geosynchronous ringhas increased steadily over time such that active debris removal missions are necessary toensure long-term stability. These objects are very large and tumbling, making any missionscenarios requiring physical contact very challenging. In the last 10 years, the concept ofusing an electrostatic tractor has been investigated extensively. With the electrostatic tractorconcept, active charge emission is employed to simultaneously charge the tug or servicesvehicle, while aiming the charge exhaust onto the passive space debris object to charge it aswell. The resulting electrostatic force has been explored to actuate this debris object to adisposal orbit or to detumble the object, all without physical contact. This paper provides asurvey of the related research and reviews the charging concepts, the associated electrostaticforce and torque modeling, and the feedback control developments, as well as the chargesensing research.
Tsinghua University Press
M. Bengtson, K. Wilson, J. Hughes et al. Survey of the electrostatic tractor research for reorbiting passive GEO space objects.Astrodyn.2018, 2(4): 291–305.