Shape control of slack space reflectors using modulated solar pressure

Andreas Borggräfe, Jeannette Heiligers, Matteo Ceriotti, Colin R. McInnes

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7 Citations (Scopus)
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The static deflection profile of a large spin-stabilised space reflector due to solar radiation pressure acting on its surface is investigated. Such a spacecraft
consists of a thin reflective circular film, which is deployed from a supporting hoop structure in an untensioned, slack manner. This paper investigates
the use of a variable reflectivity distribution across the surface to control the solar pressure force and hence the deflected shape. In this first analysis, the film
material is modelled as one-dimensional slack radial strings with no resistance to bending or transverse shear, which enables a semi-analytic derivation of the
nominal deflection profile. An inverse method is then used to find the reflectivity distribution that generates a specific, for example, parabolic deflection shape
of the strings. Applying these results to a parabolic reflector, short focal distances can be obtained when large slack lengths of the film are employed. The development of such optically controlled reflector films enables future key mission applications such as solar power collection, radio-frequency antennae and optical telescopes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0119
Number of pages19
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2179
Early online date1 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2015


  • parabolic reflectors
  • slack surface deflection
  • solar radiation pressure
  • reflectivity modulation
  • catenary suspension

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