End-To-End Trajectory Design for a Solar-Sail-Only Pole-Sitter at Venus, Earth, and Mars

Jeannette Heiligers, M. Vergaaij, M. Ceriotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The concept of a pole-sitter has been under investigation for many years, showing the capability of a low-thrust propulsion system to maintain a spacecraft at a static position along a planet's polar axis. From such a position, the spacecraft has a view of the planet's polar regions equivalent to that of the low- and mid-latitudes from geostationary orbit. Previous work has hinted at the existence of pole-sitters that would only require a solar sail to provide the necessary propulsive thrust if a slight deviation from a position exactly along the polar axis is allowed, without compromising on the continuous view of the planet's polar region (a so-called quasi-pole-sitter). This paper conducts a further in-depth analysis of these high-potential solar-sail-only quasi-pole-sitters and presents a full end-to-end trajectory design: from launch and transfer to orbit design and orbit control. The results are the next steppingstone towards strengthening the feasibility and utility of these orbits for continuous planetary polar observation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2995–3011
Number of pages17
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event5th International Symposium on Solar Sailing - Aachen, Germany
Duration: 30 Jul 20192 Aug 2019
Conference number: 5


  • Solar sailing
  • Pole-sitter
  • Orbit design
  • Trajectory optimisation
  • Orbit control


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