Monday, June 19, 2017

Radiation pressure on a diffractive sailcraft

Grover A. Swartzlander

Advanced diffractive metamaterial films may afford advantages over passive reflective surfaces for a variety space missions that use solar or laser in-space propulsion. Three cases are compared: sun-facing diffractive sails, Littrow diffraction configurations, and conventional reflective sails. A simple Earth-to-Mars orbit transfer at a constant attitude with respect to the sunline finds no penalty for transparent diffractive sails. Advantages of the latter approach include actively controlled metasails, reuse of photons, and mission-specific optimization schemes.

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