Orbiting electrodynamic tethered systems are subjected not only to the gravity gradient but also to the electromagnetic drag forces that are generated by the interaction of the current flowing in the tether with the local magnetic field, according to the Lorentz law. This feature makes it possible to think of using such a system in order to de-orbit a satellite at the end of its life, taking advantage of the orbital energy lost in producing electric power.

The configuration of such a system is deeply discussed in this paper with reference to a parametric analysis based on two different mechanical models, both of them considering the tether mass and elasticity and an electric current generated at one end that interact with the Earth’s ionosphere. The magnetic field variation along the orbit is considered, giving raise to forced oscillations of the system around its equilibrium configuration.

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