Electromagnetic uncoordinated control of a ChipSats swarm using magnetorquers

ACTA ASTRONAUTICA Volume 192, March 2022, Pages 15-29

Danil Ivanov, Rui Gondar, Uliana Monakhova, Anna Guerman, Mikhail Ovchinnikov (doi.org/10.1016/j.actaastro.2021.12.014)

A swarm of ChipSats equipped with miniature magnetorquers is considered, the electromagnetic interaction force is used for relative motion control at extremely short relative distances up to several centimetres. A ChipSat is a satellite printed on 3.5 × 3.5 cm circuit board with a set of sensors, solar panels, onboard computer, and communication system. Assuming the relative motion between each satellite is known, a Lyapunov-based control algorithm is proposed to achieve bounded relative trajectories. A centralized and a decentralized control approaches are implemented. For the centralized approach, a CubeSat is considered as the main satellite after swarm deployment, producing a high value magnetic dipole moment which interacts with the magnetic dipole of the surrounding ChipSats in order to stop relative drift. For the decentralized approach, the ChipSats are linked in interchangeable pairs in order to apply the electromagnetic control force and reduce the relative drift between the satellites to the vicinity of zero. Two different pairing selection methods are proposed in the paper, based on the closest satellite and on the satellite with highest relative drift. Both translational and rotational motion of satellites are considered. The magnetic dipole moments are used for angular velocity damping when orbit control is not required, and a repulsive collision avoidance electromagnetic control is applied when two ChipSats are within dangerously close proximity to each other. The proposed control schemes performance is studied numerically with different algorithm and ChipSats parameters. The influence of these parameters on the swarm separation is obtained using Monte-Carlo simulations.