Self Balanced Bare Electrodynamic Tethers. Space Debris Mitigation and other Applications

Sanjurjo Rivo, Manuel (2009). Self Balanced Bare Electrodynamic Tethers. Space Debris Mitigation and other Applications. Thesis (Doctoral), E.T.S.I. Aeronáuticos (UPM).


Title: Self Balanced Bare Electrodynamic Tethers. Space Debris Mitigation and other Applications
  • Sanjurjo Rivo, Manuel
Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Read date: September 2009
Faculty: E.T.S.I. Aeronáuticos (UPM)
Department: Física Aplicada a la Ingeniería Aeronáutica [hasta 2014]
Creative Commons Licenses: Recognition - No derivative works - Non commercial

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The research on electrodynamic tethers (EDT) has been a fruitful field since
the 70’s. This technology has been developed thanks to both theoretical studies
and demonstration missions. During this period, several technical issues were
identified and overcome. Among those problems, two of them would entail an
important reduction in the operational capabilities of these devices. First, the
efficient collection of electrons in rarefied plasma and, second, the dynamic
instability of EDTs in inclined orbits. The bare tether concept represents the
surmounting of the current scarcity in low density plasma. This method of
interaction with the ionosphere promises to considerably increase the intensity
along the tether. In turn, the dynamic instability could be avoided by balancing
the EDT, as it has been proposed with the Self Balanced Electrodynamic
Tether (SBET) concept. The purpose of this thesis is to prove the suitability of
both concepts working together in several space applications: from mitigation
of the space debris to capture in a Jovian orbit.
The computation of the electron collection by a bare tether is faced in first
place. The semi-analytical method derived in this work allows to calculate accurately
and efficiently the intensity which flows along a tether working on the
OML (orbit-motion-limited) regime. Then, an energy study is derived, where
the EDT is analyzed as an energy converter. This approach provides a link
among the different aspects of the problem, from both electrical and dynamical
points of view. All the previous considerations will lead to the introduction
of control laws based on the SBET concept, enhancing its capabilities. These
analysis will be tested in a couple of particular scenarios of interest.
Mitigation of space debris has become an issue of first concern for all the
institutions involved in space operations. In this context, EDTs have been
pointed out as a suitable and economical technology to de-orbit spacecrafts at
the end of their operational life. Throughout this dissertation the numerical
simulation of different de-orbiting missions by means of EDTs will allow to
highlight its main characteristics and recognize the different parameters which
are involved. The simulations will assess the suitability of electrodynamic
tethers to perform these kind of mission.
On the other hand, one of the foremost objectives within Solar System
exploration is Jupiter, its moons and their surroundings. Due to the presence
of magnetic field and plasma environment, this scenario turns out to be
particularly appropriate for the utilization of EDTs. These devices would be
capable to generate power and thrust without propellant consumption. Orbital
maneuvers and power generation will be therefore ensured. In this work,
the possibility of using self balanced bare electrodynamic tethers to perform
a capture in Jovian orbit is analyzed. In addition, within this research, the
analysis of the dynamics of a tether in the neighborhoods of a Lagrangian
point results to be interesting since it models the motion of a space system
near a Jupiter’s moon. That would allow to study the establishment of a permanent
observatory for scientific observation in Jovian orbit. The analysis of
the restricted three body problem is developed without taking into account the
electrodynamic perturbation, leaving the inclusion of this feature for further
research. Finally, within the frame of this dissertation, an additional analysis
is presented. The study is related to the possible role of EDT in geodetic missions.
The work gathered here describes an initial analysis of the capabilities
of a tethered system to recover gravitational signals by means of measuring its

More information

Item ID: 1839
DC Identifier:
OAI Identifier:
DOI: 10.20868/UPM.thesis.1839
Deposited by: Dr Manuel Sanjurjo Rivo
Deposited on: 29 Sep 2009 16:39
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2022 13:23
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