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Asia Pacific Journal of Engineering Science and Technology 1 (1) (2015) 11-24

Asia Pacific Journal of Engineering Science and Technology


journal homepage: www.apjest.com

Technical Note

A cylindrical shadow eclipse prediction model for LEO satellites with


application to IRS satellites
Prakash Shiggavia*, Hemalata M.G.b
a

ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), Bangalore- 560058, India

Master Control Facility (MCF), Hassan-573103, India

(Received: 24 December 2015; accepted 29 December 2015; published online 30 December 2015)

ABSTRACT
Most of the Low Earth-Orbiting (LEO) spacecraft experience eclipse when the spacecraft
passes through the shadow side of the Earth. As the spacecraft is eclipsed, space scientists and
engineers express their interest in various objectives such as the shadow entrance and exit
timings, the Sun-satellite geometry etc. The shadow information of a satellite is very useful for
various utilizations, e.g., spacecraft thermal control, solar panel power, attitude control, and
celestial viewing conditions. This paper describes an Earth cylindrical shadow model for the
LEO spacecraft. The model is simulated to arbitrarily chosen three Indian remote sensing (IRS)
satellites; Cartosat-2A, Resourcesat-2, Oceansat-2 and is compared well with the real time data.
The accuracy of the developed model is also carried out in terms of 3 estimation.

Keywords: Earth cylindrical shadow model; spacecraft position vector; Sun vector; eclipse

1. Introduction
It has been observed that almost most of the LEO satellites realize shadow when the
satellite goes to the anti-Sun side of the Earth. Apart from the occultation of the Sun by the
Earth, the Moon may also cast shadow on the spacecraft; however these events occur less
frequently because the Moon is constantly in motion with respect to the satellite orbit, unlike
Earth-eclipse case where the occulting body is fixed at the focus of the orbit [1]. Computation of
eclipse condition is generally applied for the Earth as the occulting body. The frequency and
*

E-mail address: prakashshiggavi@gmail.com

2015 Author(s)

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duration of eclipse periods is strongly dependent on orbital inclination and altitude [2] e.g. in a
low-altitude, equatorial orbit, the spacecraft resides in the Earths shadow for approximately 40%
of every orbit. For dawn-dusk sun-synchronous orbits, even at low altitude, several months of
wholly sunlit operation may be obtained. Satellite in highly elliptic orbits with relatively low
perigee altitudes will generally encounter eclipse periods when near the Earth. In Geostationary
Earth Orbit (GEO), a spacecraft spends most of its time in sunlight. The eclipse periods in this
case are short and depend on the season. In the period around the solstices, the operation is
eclipse free, whereas near the spring and autumn equinox the satellite-Sun vector is near the orbit
plane and eclipses are encountered with durations up to a maximum of 72 minutes. This is still, a
small fraction of the total orbit period of 24 hour. The calculation of the eclipse duration is
important from the point of view of the satellite design, e.g. if the satellites primary power
source is solar arrays, backed up by a battery storage system, then the sizing of the power
subsystem is strongly influenced by the length of the eclipse period. The knowledge of the
shadow passage timing for any given mission timeline has a significant effect on the on-orbit
thermal environment experienced by a satellite. The spacecraft are effectively powered by
sunlight, supported by batteries. Once a spacecraft disappears into shadow, then the systems for
orienting solar panels towards the Sun become, perhaps, slightly confused and start to hunt. At
the same time, orienting the spacecraft in their correct attitude towards the Earth is also to a
degree dependent on input from solar panel array orientation towards the Sun. Thus, while in
eclipse, not only is the spacecraft draining power while it continues to hunt for the Sun, it may
also be drifting slightly out of its correct orientation, thus introducing potential errors due to
offsets between the spacecrafts center of gravity and the electrical centers of its various
transmitting antenna [3].
Cylindrical shadow model has been investigated by many researchers e.g., Escobal [4]
developed cylindrical shadow model by finding two non-spurious roots of a quartic polynomial
in the cosine of the true anomaly which he solved in closed form by quadratic radicals, Vallado
[5] developed a cylindrical shadow model using Newton-Raphson numerical approximation
technique which involves the solution of quartic polynomial of the true anomaly. Recently,
Srivastava et al. [6] used a projection map method to predict the eclipse entry and exit conditions
for the IRS satellites considering the cylindrical shadow of the Earth.
In this paper, an Earth cylindrical shadow model has been described for LEO satellites,
assuming that satellite is orbiting the Earth in a circular orbit. The model is simulated to
arbitrarily chosen three IRS satellites; CAR-2A, RES-2 and OCN-2. The paper is designed as
follows; in Section 2, a brief introduction of the IRS satellites is provided. In Section 3, the
cylindrical shadow model is described. The application and comparison of the model with real
time data is presented in Section 4. A concluding discussion is given in Section 5.

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2. Indian remote sensing satellites


In this section, we give a brief introduction of the IRS satellites: CAR-2A, RES-2 and
OCN-2. Cartosat-2A (CAR-2A) is a highly agile three-axis body stabilized polar sun
synchronous IRS satellite at an altitude of 630.5 km and inclination of 97.910 with a descending
node equatorial crossing at 09.30 AM local time and orbital period 97.3 min. It is an advanced
cartographic application IRS satellite providing better than 0.8m panchromatic imaging
capabilities using 2.5m camera and step and stare technique. Mission objective of CAR-2A is to
meet the ever increasing demands for cartographic applications at cadastral level, urban and rural
management, coastal land use and regulation, utilities mapping and development and other LIS
and GIS applications. The payload of CAR-2A is configured with independent chains of CCDs
and camera electronics. The two CCD arrays (each one is linear array of 12000 elements) are
located within the focal plane of single optics system consisting of two mirror RC type telescope,
three lenses, a window and a band pass filter. The camera is steerable by rotating the S/C body in
roll, which in turn increases the revisit capability. The S/C can be biased 450 in pitch, 260 in
roll and 600 in yaw to image the desired spot. In addition to spot imaging, the S/C has
capability to image in multi-view mode for stereoscopic applications and paint brush mode for
achieving wider swath coverage.
Resourcesat-2 (RES-2) is a polar sun synchronous IRS satellite at an altitude of 817 km
and inclination of 98.770 with a descending node equatorial crossing at 10.30 AM local time and
orbital period 101.35 min, with mission objective to carry out studies in advanced areas of user
applications like improved crop discrimination, crop yield, crop stress, pest/disease surveillance,
disaster management etc. the payload system of RES-2 consists of three optical remote sensing
cameras, viz., LISS-4, LISS-3 and AWiFS. LISS-4 provides 5.8 m resolution in three bands with
70 km swath (mono) and 23.3 km in the Mx mode, in addition, LISS-4 has 70 km Long Mx
mode of operations. LISS-3 provides 23.5 m spatial resolution in four bands with 140 km swath
and AWiFS camera provides with a spatial resolution of 56 m in four bands with 740 km swath.
Oceansat-2 (OCN-2), a polar sun synchronous IRS satellite at an altitude of 720 km and
inclination of 98.280 with a descending node equatorial crossing at 11.55 AM local time, with
orbital period 99.3 min, is designed with mission objective mainly for the oceanographic
applications. OCN-2 is placed in. It carries three payload instruments: Ocean Color Monitor
(OCM), Ku-band Wind Scatterometer (SCAT) and Radio Occultation Sounder for Atmospheric
studies (ROSA). ROSA payload is developed by the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana, Italy.
3. Cylindrical shadow model
In this section we describe a cylindrical shadow model using the well-known line of
intersection model [7-10]. Assume that the Sun is infinitely far from the Earth, so the light rays
are parallel, producing a cylindrical Earth shadow [11]. Fig. 1 shows the Earths shadow

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cylindrical geometry in a plane, which is defined by the geo-center, the Sun vector r and the
spacecraft vector a . In the plane, rays of light starting at the Sun-edges and making tangents with
the Earth define the sunlight and eclipse regions, as shown in Fig. 2. The Sun vector r
computation [5] is described in the Appendix I.

Fig. 1. Cylindrical eclipse shadow geometry.

The calculation of the intersection points are carried out using the three-dimensional
geometry, with the surface of the Earth being mathematically estimated by the equation of a
sphere
x2 y 2 z 2 R2 ,

(1)

where x,y,z are the coordinates of a point in space on the surface of the sphere in the ECI
frame and R is the equatorial radius of the Earth.
Assume that Line 1 and Line 2 refer as the line passing through the spacecraft to Sun-

a1 , a2 , a3 be the components of the spacecrafts


b1 , b2 , b3 be the components of the vector b from the Sun-

edge 1 and Sun-edge 2 respectively. Let


position vector a from the geo-center,

edge 1 to the spacecraft and c1 , c2 , c3 be the components of the vector c from the Sun-edge 2 to
the spacecraft. Any point x,y,z on Line 1 satisfies the following equation
x a1 y a2 z a3

,
b1
b2
b3

(2)

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Similarly, any point x,y,z on Line 2 satisfies


x a1 y a2 z a3

,
c1
c2
c3

(3)

Assume S p denotes the unit vector orthogonal to the Sun vector from the geo-center. Further
suppose that the vectors rs1 and rs 2 define the lines from the geo-center to the Sun-edge 1 and the
Sun-edge 2 respectively, then we have
b a rs1 ,

.
c a rs 2 ,

(4)

The unit vector S p which lies in the plane and perpendicular to r , can be given as
Sp
r ri
S p

,
| Sp | | r r |

(5)

where ri is a vector normal to the plane and is expressed as

ri r a.

(6)

Thus, the two Sun-edge points yield


rs1 r R S p ,
.
rs 2 r R S p ,

(7)

where R is the radius of the Sun, which is approximately 696000 km [5].


From Eq. (2), Line 1 can be expressed as
b

y 2 x a1 a2 ,
b1

.
b3
z x a1 a3 ,

b1
Similarly, from Eq. (3), Line 2 can be expressed as
c

y 2 x a1 a2 ,
c1

.
c3
z x a1 a3 ,

c1
Combining Eqs. (1) and (8), we obtain the following relation for the Line 1
2

ALine1 x2 BLine1 x CLine1 0,

(9)

b
b

x 2 x a1 a2 3 x a1 a3 R2 .
b1
b1

Eq. (10) can be expressed as


2

(8)

(10)

(11)

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where the coefficients ALine1 , BLine1 and CLine1 are given as


A Line1 b12 b2 2 b32 ,

BLine1 2b1 b2 a2 +b3a3 2a1 b2 2 b32 ,

C Line1 =b12 a2 2 a32 b2 2 b32 a12 2b1a1 b2 a2 b3a3 -b12 R2 .

(12)

Similarly, the intersection of the Line 2 and the Earth yields:

ALine 2 x2 BLine 2 x CLine 2 0,

(13)

where
A Line2 c12 c2 2 c32 ,

BLine2 2c1 c2 a2 +c3a3 2a1 c2 2 c32 ,

C Line 2 =c12 a2 2 a32 c2 2 c32 a12 2c1a1 c2 a2 c3a3 -c12 R2 .

(14)
The real solutions to the quadratic Eqs. (11) and (13) give the x-coordinates of the points of
intersection of the sphere and the Sun-edges 1 and 2 to the spacecraft line, respectively. Once the
values of x are obtained, we can get y and z values for Line 1 and Line 2, and thus we obtain the

Fig. 2. Spacecraft in sunlit and eclipse states.

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coordinates of the points of intersection where these lines intersect the sphere. A real solution to
Eqs. (11) and (13) exists when the conditions

B2Line1 -4A Line1CLine1 0, for Line 1


(15)

B2Line2 -4A Line2CLine2 0, for Line 1


are satisfied. If the condition (15) is satisfied, an intersection takes place. A negative value of the
condition (15) has no physical meaning, but shows that no intersection occurs. Algorithm given
in Appendix II is used to predict the spacecrafts status whether it is in eclipse state or in full
phase (sunlit).
4. Applications
Knowing the Sun vector, r and the spacecraft position vector, a at a given epoch, it can be
easily predicted whether the spacecraft is in eclipse or sunlit state using the algorithm given in
Appendix II. The algorithm was simulated to the Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites:
Cartosat-2A, Resourcesat-2 and Oceansat-2. State vectors of these satellites are given in
Srivastava et al. [6]. Tables 1, 2 and 3 show the comparison between eclipse entry and exit
timings for these IRS satellites using the developed model, the Earth cylindrical shadow model
(ECSM) using the projection map model described by Srivastava et al. [6] and the real time data.
It can be seen that eclipse entry and exit timings for these IRS satellites are very close to the real
time data, using the developed model. The time offsets between the eclipse entry and exit have
been computed with respect to the real time data and are shown in Table 4. Tables 5 and 6 give
this error estimation in terms of 3 accuracy, where is the standard deviation. In Tables 5 and
6, the mean and the standard deviations are calculated from the absolute values of the time
offsets. It can be observed that the proposed cylindrical shadow model is more accurate than the
ECSM model.
Table 1: CAR-2A eclipse entry and exit timing (hr: min: sec) between 0 UT on 2013/Jan/07 to 0 UT on
2013/Jan/08.
Orbit
Number

ECSM [6]

Developed Model

Real time data

Entry

Exit

Entry

Exit

Entry

Exit

25343

---

00:16:22

---

00:16:33

---

00:16:40

25344

01:23:15

01:53:49

01:23:02

01:54:00

01:22:56

01:54:07

25345

03:00:41

03:31:16

03:00:27

03:31:27

03:00:22

03:31:33

25346

04:38:07

05:08:43

04:37:53

05:08:54

04:37:49

05:08:59

25347

06:15:32

06:46:10

06:15:19

06:46:21

06:15:15

06:46:26

25348

07:52:58

08:23:37

07:52:45

08:23:48

07:52:42

08:23:52

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25349

09:30:24

10:01:04

09:30:11

10:01:15

09:30:08

10:01:18

25350

11:07:50

11:38:30

11:07:36

11:38:41

11:07:35

11:38:44

25351

12:45:15

13:15:57

12:45:02

13:16:08

12:45:01

13:16:11

25352

14:22:41

14:53:24

14:22:28

14:53:35

14:22:27

14:53:37

25353

16:00:07

16:30:51

16:59:54

16:31:02

15:59:54

16:31:03

25354

17:37:33

18:08:15

17:37:20

18:08:29

17:37:20

18:08:30

25355

19:14:59

19:45:45

19:14:46

19:45:56

19:14:47

19:45:56

25356

20:52:24

21:23:12

20:52:12

21:23:23

20:52:13

21:23:22

25357

22:29:50

23:00:39

22:29:37

23:00:49

22:29:40

23:00:49

Table 2: RES-2 eclipse entry and exit timing (hr: min: sec) between 0 UT on 2013/Jan/14 to 0 UT on 2013/Jan/15.
Orbit
Number

ECSM [6]

Developed Model

Real time data

Entry

Exit

Entry

Exit

Entry

Exit

9019

-----

00:00:33

-----

00:00:45

-----

00:00:51

9020

01:09:00

01:41:54

01:09:01

01:42:06

01:08:56

01:42:11

9021

02:50:21

03:23:15

02:50:22

03:23:27

02:50:17

03:23:32

9022

04:31:41

05:04:37

04:31:43

05:04:48

04:31:38

05:04:53

9023

06:13:02

06:45:58

06:13:03

06:46:10

06:12:59

06:46:14

9024

07:54:23

08:27:19

07:54:24

08:27:31

07:54:19

08:27:34

9025

09:35:43

10:08:41

09:35:45

10:08:52

09:35:40

10:08:55

9026

11:17:04

11:50:02

11:17:05

11:50:14

11:17:01

11:50:16

9027

12:58:24

13:31:23

12:58:26

13:31:35

12:58:22

13:31:36

9028

14:39:45

15:12:45

14:39:47

15:12:56

14:39:42

15:12:57

9029

16:21:06

16:54:06

16:21:07

16:54:17

16:21:03

16:54:18

9030

18:02:27

18:35:27

18:02:28

18:35:39

18:02:24

18:35:39

9031

19:43:47

20:16:49

19:43:49

20:17:00

19:43:45

20:16:59

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Asia Pacific J. Eng. Sci. Tech. 1 (1) (2015) 11-24

9032

21:25:08

21:58:10

21:25:10

21:58:21

21:25:06

21:58:20

9033

23:06:28

23:39:31

23:06:30

23:39:43

23:06:26

23:39:41

Table 3: OCN-2 eclipse entry and exit timing (hr: min: sec) between 0 UT on 2013/Jan/18 to 0 UT on 2013/Jan/19.
Orbit
Number

ECSM [6]

Developed Model

Real time data

Entry

Exit

Entry

Exit

Entry

Exit

17585

------

00:20:44

-------

00:20:52

-------

00:20:59

17586

01:24:59

02:00:03

01:25:12

02:00:11

01:25:09

02:00:18

17587

03:04:17

03:39:21

03:04:30

03:39:29

03:04:27

03:39:36

17588

04:43:36

05:18:40

04:43:49

05:18:48

04:43:46

05:18:54

17589

06:22:55

06:57:59

06:23:07

06:58:07

06:23:04

06:58:13

17590

08:02:13

08:37:17

08:02:27

08:37:26

08:02:23

08:37:31

17591

09:41:31

10:16:36

09:41:45

10:16:44

09:41:41

10:16:50

17592

11:20:50

11:55:55

11:21:03

11:56:03

11:20:59

11:56:08

17593

13:00:08

13:35:13

13:00:22

13:35:22

13:00:18

13:35:27

17594

14:39:27

15:14:32

14:39:40

15:14:40

14:39:36

15:14:45

17595

16:18:45

16:53:51

16:18:59

16:53:59

16:18:55

16:54:03

17596

17:58:04

18:33:11

17:58:17

18:33:18

17:58:13

18:33:22

17597

19:37:23

20:12:28

19:37:36

20:12:36

19:37:32

20:12:40

17598

21:16:41

21:51:47

21:16:55

21:51:55

21:16:50

21:51:59

17599

22:56:00

23:31:06

22:56:13

23:31:14

22:56:09

23:31:17

5. Conclusions
In this study, a cylindrical shadow model is described to predict eclipse state for the low
Earth-orbiting eclipsing spacecraft, knowing the Sun vector and the spacecraft position vector at
a specific epoch. The model, which gives direct solutions for the eclipse state, is applied to the
IRS satellites: CAR-2A, RES-2, and OCN-2. The comparative study shows the developed model

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is very effective and efficient cylindrical shadow model for the orbit prediction and satellite
operations for the LEO satellites.

Table 4: Eclipse entry and exit time offsets.


CAR-2A
ECSM [6]

RES-2
Developed
model

ECSM [6]

OCN-2
Developed
model

ECSM [6]

Developed
model

Entry
(sec)

Exit
(sec)

Entry
(sec)

Exit
(sec)

Entry
(sec)

Exit
(sec)

Entry
(sec)

Exit
(sec)

Entry
(sec)

Exit
(sec)

Entry
(sec)

Exit
(sec)

-3

-1

-1

-3

-1

-1

-3

-1

-1

-1

-3

-1

-3

-1

-1

-3

-1

-3

-2

-3

-2

-3

-3

-3

-3

-3

-4

-3

-1

-3

-3

-1

-4

-3

-4

----

---

-1

---

---

----

----

----

----

----

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Table 5: Error estimation of the ECSM model for the IRS satellites.
Error
Estimation

CAR-2A

RES-2

OCN-2

Entry (sec)

Exit (sec)

Entry(sec)

Exit (sec)

Entry (sec)

Exit (sec)

14.786

13.929

3.0

13.733

9.643

13.143

2.756

2.404

0.756

2.620

0.610

1.301

6.517

6.716

0.732

5.875

7.812

9.238

23.054

21.141

5.268

21.592

11.474

17.047

Mean

Table 6: Error estimation of the developed model for the IRS satellites.
Error
Estimation

CAR-2A

RES-2

OCN-2

Entry (sec)

Exit (sec)

Entry(sec)

Exit (sec)

Entry (sec)

Exit (sec)

2.357

2.929

4.429

2.667

3.786

5.143

1.836

2.153

0.495

1.850

0.558

1.245

-3.152

-3.532

2.944

-2.883

2.112

1.407

7.866

9.389

5.913

8.216

5.459

8.879

Mean

Nomenclature

R : Earths equatorial radius


R : Radius of the photosphere
a : Spacecraft position vector
r : Sun vector from the geo-center

x, y, z : Coordinates of a point on the surface of the Earth


a1 , a2 , a3 : Components of S/C position vector a
b : Vector joining the Sun-edge 1 to S/C
c : Vector joining the Sun-edge 2 to S/C

b1 , b2 , b3 : Components of the vector b

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c1 , c2 , c3 : Components of the vector c


rs1 : Vector representing the line from the geo-center to Sun-edge 1

rs 2 : Vector representing the line from the geo-center to Sun-edge 2


S : Unit vector orthogonal to r in the S/C, Earth and Sun centers plane
p

ri : Vector normal to the plane

ALine1 , BLine1 , CLine1 : Coefficients of the intersection point between Line 1 with the sphere
ALine2 , BLine2 , CLine2 : Coefficients of the intersection point between Line 2 with the sphere
: Distance between the Sun and S/C

_s/c

_ int_ Line1

: Distance between the Sun and the point of intersection of Line 1

_ int_ Line 2

: Distance between the Sun and the point of intersection of Line 2

Appendix I: Computing Sun vector ( r )


To compute the Sun vector, r the following scheme, stated stepwise, is carried out.
Step (I): compute the Julian Date, JD using the formula
7
month 9
JD year ,month ,date ,hour ,min,sec 367( year ) Int year Int

12


4
sec 60 min 60 hour .
275 month
Int
date 17210135

9
24 60

Step (II): compute the Julian centuries, TUT 1 from the epoch UT1using TUT 1

JDUT 1 2451545.0
.
36525

Step (III): compute the Mean longitude, M _ sun of the Sun using the relation

M _ sun 280.4606184 36000.77005361TUT 1.


Step (IV): assume TTDB TUT 1.
Step (V): compute the Obliquity of the ecliptic, using the relation
24.439291 0.0130042 TUDB .
Step (VI): compute the Mean anomaly, M a _ sun for the Sun using the relation

M a _ sun 357.5277233 35999.05034 TTDB .


Step (VII): compute the Ecliptic longitude, ecli _ sun of the Sun by

ecli _ sun M _ sun 1.914666471 sin M a _ sun 0.019994643 sin 2M a _ sun .


Step (VIII): compute the Ecliptic latitude, ecli _ sun of the Sun, which is given as ecli _ sun 0.
Step (X): compute the Magnitude, | r | of the position vector, r (in AU) from the Earth to
Sun, by the relation

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| r | 1.000140612 0.016708617 cos M a _ sun 0.000139589 cos 2M a _ sun .

Step (XI): compute the position vector of the Sun, r

(in AU) in geocentric equatorial

coordinates (J2000) frame using the formula

cos ecli cos ecli _ sun

r | r | cos cos ecli _ sun sin ecli _ sun sin sin ecli _ sun .

sin cos ecli _ sun sin ecli _ sun cos sin ecli _ sun

Appendix II: Eclipse prediction using cylindrical shadow model


To predict whether satellite is in sunlit or eclipse region, the following steps are carried out.
Step (I): compute the Sun vector, r .
Step (II): compute the Spacecraft(S/C) position vector, a at the epoch.
Step (III): compute the distance, d _ s / c between the Sun and S/C.
Step (IV): compute vectors b and c from the Sun-edge 1 and Sun-edge 2 to S/C.
Step (V): find the coefficients ALine1 , BLine1 , CLine1 and

ALine2 , BLine2 , CLine2

of Line1 and Line2

joining the Sun-edge 1and Sun-edge 2 to S/C.


Step (VI): test whether Line 1 or Line 2 intersects the Earth or not, if an intersection takes place,
compute:
a) distance, d

_ int_ Line1

between Sun and the point of intersection of Line 1, joining

Sun edge 1 and Spacecraft line.


b) distance, d _ int_ Line 2 between Sun and point of intersection of Line 2, joining Sun
edge 2 and Spacecraft line.
Step (VII): if an intersection occurs and d

_s/c

_ int_ Line1

or d

_s/c

_int_ Line 2

=>S/C is either

in eclipse or sunlit; test the following conditions:


a) if both lines intersect the Earth and d

_s/c

_ int_ Line1

and d

_s/c

_int_ Line 2

=>

S/C is in eclipse state.


b) else S/C is in sunlit state.
Step (VIII): otherwise S/C is in sunlit state.
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