The aerodynamics of charged spacecraft in the ionosphere

Professor Russell Boyce
Scientia Project Summary: 
Satellites wander in LEO orbits due to many causes. Of these, aerodynamic effects are poorly understood, and so orbit predictions are extremely inaccurate and elevate the risk of in-orbit collisions. UNSW Canberra Space has developed a sophisticated code for simulating the flow physics of charged spacecraft in the ionospheric plasma. The proposed project will use this code to study representative satellite configurations and include the possibility for deliberately modifying the level and distribution of the surface charge to control the aerodynamics and in turn modify the perturbing forces that disturb the spacecraft’s orbit.