The increasing use of very light structures in aerospace applications are given rise to the need of taking into account the effects of the surrounding media in the motion of a structure (as for instance, in modal testing of solar panels or antennae) as it is usually performed in the motion of bodies submerged in water in marine applications. New methods are in development aiming at to determine rigid-body properties (the center of mass position and inertia properties) from the results of oscillations tests (at low frequencies during modal testing, by exciting the rigid-body modes only) by using the equations of the rigid-body dynamics. As it is shown in this paper, the effect of the surrounding media significantly modifies the oscillation dynamics in the case of light structures and therefore this effect should be taken into account in the development of the above-mentioned methods. The aim of the paper is to show that, if a central point exists for the aerodynamic forces acting on the body, the motion equations for the small amplitude rotational and translational oscillations can be expressed in a form which is a generalization of the motion equations for a body in vacuum, thus allowing to obtain a physical idea of the motion and aerodynamic effects and also significantly simplifying the calculation of the solutions and the interpretation of the results. In the formulation developed here the translational oscillations and the rotational motion around the center of mass are decoupled, as is the case for the rigid-body motion in vacuum, whereas in the classical added mass formulation the six motion equations are coupled. Also in this paper the nonsteady motion of small amplitude of a rigid body submerged in an ideal, incompressible fluid is considered in order to define the conditions for the existence of the central point in the case of a three-dimensional body. The results here presented are also of interest in marine applications.

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