Nicolò Bernardini


Postgraduate Research Student

Academic and research departments

Astrodynamics, Surrey Space Centre.

My research project

My publications

Publications

NICOLÒ BERNARDINI, NICOLA BARESI, Roberto Armellin, Steve Eckersley, Sarah A Matthews (2022)Trajectory design of Earth-enabled Sun occultation missions, In: Acta Astronautica195pp. 251-264

Understanding the solar corona and its structure, evolution and composition can provide new insights regarding the processes that control the transport of energy throughout the solar atmosphere and out into the heliosphere. However, the visible emission coming from the corona is more than a million times weaker than the emission from the photosphere, implying that direct corona observations are only possible when the disk of the Sun is fully obscured. In this paper we perform a feasibility study of a Sun occultation mission using the Earth as a natural occulter. The challenge is that the occultation zone created by the Earth does not follow a Keplerian trajectory, causing satellites placed in this region to quickly drift away from eclipse conditions. To increase the number of revisits while optimizing the propellant budget, we propose optimal trajectories in the Sun–Earth-Spacecraft circular restricted three body problem that account for scientific and engineering constraints such as limited power budget and mission duration. Chemical propulsion, electric propulsion and solar sailing configurations are compared in terms of performance and mission feasibility, revealing how 24 h of corona observations would be possible every 39 days with as little as 199 m/s of í µí»¥í µí±‰. The feasibility of the solar sail approach is hereby demonstrated, making it a challenging engineering alternative to currently available technologies.

NICOLA BARESI, NICOLÒ BERNARDINI, EDOARDO CICCARELLI, Xiaoyu Fu, Harry J. Holt, Roberto Armellin (2022)Guidance, Navigation and Control of Retrograde Relative Orbits around Phobos

Despite the advantages of very-low altitude retrograde orbits around Phobos, questions remain about the efficacy of conventional station-keeping strategies in preventing spacecraft such as the Martian Moons eXploration from escaping or impacting against the surface of the small irregular moon. This paper introduces new high-fidelity simulations in which the output of a sequential Square-Root Information Filter is combined with recently developed orbit maintenance strategies based on differential algebra and convex optimization methods. The position and velocity vector of the spacecraft are first estimated using range, range-rate, and additional onboard data types such as LIDAR and camera images. This information is later processed to assess the necessity of an orbit maintenance maneuver based on the estimated relative altitude of MMX about Phobos. If a maneuver is deemed necessary, the state of the spacecraft is fed to either a successive convex optimization procedure or a high-order target phase approach capable of providing sub-optimal station-keeping maneuvers. The performance of the two orbit maintenance approaches is assessed via Monte Carlo simulations and compared against work in the literature so as to identify points of strength and weaknesses.

NICOLÒ BERNARDINI, NICOLA BARESI, Roberto Armellin, Steve Eckersley (2020)Feasibility Study of Sun Occultation Missions Using Natural Bodies

Understanding the solar corona and its composition can provide new insights regarding the temperature and the magnetic field of the Sun. The light coming from the corona is more than a million of times weaker than the direct light from the Sun; consequently observing the corona is only possible when the Sun is obscured. From ground, total solar eclipses offer a good opportunity to observe the corona; however, these events only occur every 18 months on average, lasting typically only for a few minutes. The goal of this paper is to perform a feasibility analysis of a Sun occultation mission using Earth as an occulter. However, the occultation zone created by the Earth does not follow a Keplerian trajectory, causing satellites placed in this region to quickly drift apart from the target area. To increase the number of revisits while optimizing the propellant budget, we propose optimal trajectories in the Sun-Earth-Spacecraft circular restricted three body problem that account for scientific and engineering constraints such as limited power budget and mission duration. Chemical Propulsion, Electric Propulsion and Solar Sailing configurations are compared in terms of performance and mission feasibility, revealing how 20 hours of corona observations per cycle would be possible with 0.25 km/s with a revisit of the occultation zone every 35 days. In addition to that the solar sail was proven to be an interesting alternative to chemical and low-thrust propulsion systems.