A Novel Self-Deployable Solar Sail System Activated by Shape Memory Alloys

Gianluigi Bovesecchi, Sandra Corasaniti, Girolamo Costanza, Maria Elisa Tata
2019 Aerospace (Basel)  
This work deals with the feasibility and reliability about the use of shape memory alloys (SMAs) as mechanical actuators for solar sail self-deployment instead of heavy and bulky mechanical booms. Solar sails exploit radiation pressure a as propulsion system for the exploration of the solar system. Sunlight is used to propel space vehicles by reflecting solar photons from a large and light-weight material, so that no propellant is required for primary propulsion. In this work, different
more » ... , different small-scale solar sail prototypes (SSP) were studied, manufactured, and tested for bending and in three different environmental conditions to simulate as much as possible the real operating conditions where the solar sails work. Kapton is the most suitable material for sail production and, in the space missions till now, activated booms as deployment systems have always been used. In the present work for the activation of the SMA elements some visible lamps have been employed to simulate the solar radiation and time-temperature diagrams have been acquired for different sail geometries and environmental conditions. Heat transfer mechanisms have been discussed and the minimum distance from the sun allowing the full self-deployment of the sail have also been calculated.
doi:10.3390/aerospace6070078 fatcat:2kf3hxjhvfb5roocz5scayblqm