Solar pressure as a driving force
The main problem we want to address in this project is
related to the transport of material between two different
orbits in an interplanetary environment. One possible approach
is using a spacecraft to transport a given amount of material.
This conservative approach presents several shortcomings in terms
of costs, risks, etc. As an alternative, it is possible to exploit natural
forces already available in the solar system.
relevant forces acting on an isolated particle in the interplanetary
space are: the gravitational force, the radiation force (due to the
absorption and scattering of photons), the Lorentz force (resulting
from the interaction between charged particles and planetary
magnetic fields) and the solar wind (interaction with the
corpuscular radiation expelled by the sun).
The magnitude of these forces vary according to the size of the particles.
When the size is small enough, the gravitational force is not
dominant anymore. This means that the particle is not forced anymore to
move towards the Sun, but it could eventually exploit the solar
radiation to escape to a different orbit.
Moreover, it is also possible
to exploit some new material technologies to reduce the total
scattering cross section ,
thus reducing radically the radiation
By engineering the particle properties (especially the size and
material properties) we open the possibility to gain some control over
its trajectories in space and to discover new natural pathways.
In this project, the expertise of two main scientific disciplines
are brought together: nanotechnologies and mission analysis. The main
three tasks to be accomplished are:
- Modeling the scattering of light by a single particle and
a cluster . Once the
absorption and scattering are known, a reliable
value of the force acting on the particle can be derived.
- Establishing the initial conditions (position and velocity) and
the balance between the gravitational and the radiation
ones (Β parameter) to provide some control
over the particle trajectory.
- Illustrating the potential of the proposal with numerical simulations
applied to some particular case studies.
- E. Grün, Interplanetary Dust
and the Zodiacal Cloud, in Encyclopedia of the Solar System page 673,
Academic Press (1999)
- A. Alu and N. Engheta,
Achieving transparency with plasmonic and metamaterial coatings, Physical Review E,
72, 016623 (2005)
- F. J. García de Abajo,
Multiple scattering of radiation in clusters of dielectrics, Physical Review B,
60, 6086 (1999)