[LMB] Soletta Physics Demystified

Luke Bretscher rocketman0739 at gmail.com
Thu Nov 5 21:47:10 GMT 2020

On Thu, Nov 5, 2020, 12:38 AM markus baur via Lois-Bujold
<lois-bujold at lists.herald.co.uk> wrote:
> 1. drag - not only slowing the soletta, but also putting aerodynamic
> forces on something very large and flimsy
> 2. in any komarr orbit the soletta has to rotate in order to keep the
> proper orientation towards sun and komarr - in low orbit this rotation
> needs to be fast (at least once per orbit) and becomes a major stress
> factor on the soletta via centrifugal forces
> 3. in low orbit the soletty will spend almost half the time in Komarr
> shadow - reducing its cost efficiency  by that factor

I don't have a particularly strong opinion on where the soletta
orbits, but to these reasonable points I should say:

1. An orbit might be considered "relatively" low, even if it were not
low enough to encounter atmospheric effects. For Earth, an orbit above
the atmosphere is still rather below a geostationary orbit.
2. We must imagine that, at this point in the future, materials
science has advanced quite a bit. Rotating a large structure every few
hours would probably be achievable.
3. That could be avoided by constant orbital adjustment to keep the
soletta's orbital plane orthogonal to the Sun-Komarr axis.

Yet I think there is an option more likely than either a low or a high
polar orbit. It seems to me the ideal place for the soletta would be
in an L1 or L2 halo orbit. Consider the advantages:

* Always in sunlight.
* Far outside the atmosphere.
* Realignment is structurally nonstressful, as halo orbits have long periods.

One difficulty: a soletta in L1 orbit might not look like the soletta
described in the book, since it would have to deflect light at a very
shallow angle; while a soletta in L2 orbit would always be up at
night, which could get annoying.


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