A taste of things to come

Of all the institutions embedded in the culture of science writing, abstracts are actually a good idea. Abstracts give the reader a broad overview of the entire document – it’s structure and arguments. Essentially ‘warning traveller!’ A good abstract is like a tree in winter – there won’t be any surprises about the structure come spring, but you have to wait to see exactly how it will be filled out. This is not an abstract. The idea (right now) is to give some idea of what is to come and populate it with links and retroactive changes as this thing evolves.

In one sentence: This research presents the case for contactless spacecraft actuators utilizing eddy-current forces and an approach towards developing them that combines high-level modeling and empirical testing.

First, why the non-existence of eddy-current actuators is a problem worth solving and caring about and what science and engineering has already been thrown at it. This background will cover, in increasing specificity, actuators, spacecraft actuators, contactless spacecraft actuators as well as eddy-currents and earth-bound eddy-current actuators.

That will cover everything outside of this project. Then, an overview and justification of the specific angle of attack project takes – a general (gross) model combined with empirical testing.

From there, the nitty gritty.

Theory: different tactics for producing eddy-current forces in each of the three spatial degrees of freedom (push/pull, side-to-side, up/down), how an eddy-current actuator can be used as a sensor and actuator at the same time with no additional equipment. Algorithms for modeling a system that ties together Maxwell’s equations and rigid body dynamics.

Experiments: How strong is this actuator? How do we wrap a feedback loop around it? How much can the model predict? How to test a spacecraft actuator both on Earth and on the cheap?

And of course, where it can all go in the future (besides statistically likely scrapheap of history.)

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