A lift-to-drag ratio analysis is performed based on accelerometer measurements made by the Challenging Minisatellite Payload satellite to investigate the nature of gas-surface interactions taking place in orbit. The results described are for the November 2002 satellite yaw maneuver. At this time, the satellite flew at a mean altitude of 407 km. Two types of gas–surface interaction are considered in the analysis. The first is a cosine (fully diffuse) reflection model with incomplete energy accommodation. The second is a blended cosine reflection model having full accommodation combined with a fraction of quasi-specular reflection having an accommodation coefficient dependent on the surface material. It is found that the fully diffuse model best reproduces the satellite data during the yaw maneuver, and that the accommodation coefficient is approximately 0.89 during this time.

Orbits of launch-vehicle upper stages and spheres were observed by U.S. Air Force Space Command, and the resulting observations were converted by the Space Analysis Office to fitted ballistic coefficients by comparing the observed orbit with an orbit predicted by an atmospheric-drag model. The ballistic coefficients contain signals that result from atmospheric variability not captured by the model as well as signals that correspond to changes in the satellite-drag coefficient. For objects in highly elliptical orbits with perigee altitudes below 200 km a 50% change in ballistic coefficient can be observed. This drastic change is associated with both changes in the energy accommodation coefficient driven by atomic-oxygen adsorption and entry into a transition flow region where a diffuse shock forms ahead of the satellite near perigee. Furthermore, the observed ballistic coefficients for objects in near-circular orbits (7.5 km/s speeds) do not match those of objects in highly eccentric orbits (10 km/s speeds near perigee). This difference is attributed to a decrease in adsorption efficiency postulated by previous researchers that is formalized in this work into a semi-empirical model. The model parameters suggest that the average binding energy of atomic oxygen on satellite surfaces is about 5.7 eV.

%B Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets %V 50 %P 556 - 571 %8 05/2013 %G eng %U http://arc.aiaa.org/doi/abs/10.2514/1.A32348 %N 3 %! Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets %R 10.2514/1.A32348