15,640 research outputs found

    OLFAR a radio telescope based on nano satellites in moon orbit

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    It seems very likely that missions with nano-satellites in professional scientific or commercial applications will not be single-satellite missions. Well structured formations or less structured swarms of nano-satellites will be able to perform tasks that cannot be done in the “traditional” way. The Dutch space-born radio telescope project OLFAR, the Orbiting Low Frequency Array, is a good example of a typical “swarm task”. The OLFAR radio telescope will be composed of an antenna array based on nano-satellites orbiting the moon to shield the receiving nodes from terrestrial interference. The array will receive frequencies in a band from around 30 kHz to 30 MHz. This frequency band is scientifically very interesting, since it will be able to detect signals originating from the yet unseen “Dark Ages” ranging from the Big Bang until around 400 million year after. Another science driver is the LF activity from (exo) planets. In this paper the design parameters for the satellites and the swarm will be given and status of the OLFAR project will be reported. Details will be given about the antenna system, the LF-receiver and the signals that are expecte

    Overview of ESA’s Earth Observation upcoming small satellites missions

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    The “New Space” paradigm, has enabled the creation of many new opportunities in the space sector like the development of a large number of missions based on small and nano-satellites. The European Space Agency (ESA) is supporting these new development approaches and technology advancements, including use of Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) components to enable missions based on small and nano satellites. ESA’s Earth Observation Programmes Directorate (ESA-EOP) is already involved not only in the implementation of technologies exploiting the capabilities offered by small and nano-satellites as a complement to the EOP scientific and application-driven flagship satellites, but also in the quick validation of new approaches like A.I, super resolution or more in general in orbit data processing. ESA-EOP developments in the area of small and nano satellites are spread in three different programmatic lines, each with its own objectives: Scout and F-sat Missions and the InCubed Programme. This paper presents the overall ESA-EOP small missions strategy providing a brief insight on the genesis of each programmatic line and their selection processes including an update of the status of the first initiatives and missions under development or study

    On the origin of satellite swarms

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    For a species to develop in nature, two basically two things are needed: an enabling technology and a "niche". In spacecraft design the story is basically the same. Both a suitable technology and a niche application need to be there before a new generation of spacecraft can be developed. Last century two technologies have emerged that had and still have a huge impact on the development of technical systems: Micro-Electronics (ME) and Micro-Systems Technology (MST). Both are ruled by Moore's Law that indicates that considerable technology updates appear at the pace of years or even months instead of decades. Systems that need a development time of more than a few years will inevitably be based on "out-dated" and thereby difficult to maintain and repair technology unless during the development constant redesigns are made. This makes the development of the system at least very expensive. Although expenses do not seem to be a frequent show stopper in the design of spacecraft, it is still very interesting to investigate what system architectures might evolve when the specific properties of the new technologies ME and MST are fully exploited. ME presently offers more than 2 billion transistors on a chip and MST offers mechanical systems like resonators, mechanical switches, propulsions units, gyroscopes and many other sensors that _t in a volume of a few square millimeters to a few centimeters. So it is possible to fit a lot of signal processing power together with the necessary sensors and actuators in a volume that is really very small compared to any know space system. Of course state-of-the art spacecraft will immediately outperform these units in all aspects apart from cost and quantity. For the _rst time it makes sense to envisage the operation of formations of tens to hundreds of satellites that are cheap because they are based on standard commercial COTS technology and system designs. These satellite swarms will not be the systems that replace all other space systems. But, like in nature, there is a niche where swarms are the optimal solution. It's time to start occupying this niche. Typical properties of a swarm in nature are robustness, redundancy, large area coverage, the lack a hierarchical command structure, limited processing power per unit and self-organization ("swarm-intelligence"). This paper discusses the technological trends that lead to satellite swarms, where they can go and what new science they can create

    Data Communication With A Nano-satellite Using Satellite Personal Communication Networks (s-pcns)

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    Satellites typically communicate with locations on the ground to receive commands and send data back. Establishing reliable communications generally requires dedicated ground stations, which in turn require hardware and expertise. Developers of nano-satellites, however, may not have the expertise or resources necessary for establishing a dedicated ground station. Therefore, the use of an existing communication system, such as the Satellite Personal Communication Networks (S-PCNs), is attractive. Another shortcoming of the fixed ground stations, already available, is that they are normally only able to communicate with Low Earth Orbit (LEO) nano-satellites four times per day (two10-minute windows separated by 90 minutes, followed 12 hours later by two more such 10-minute windows). This drawback is also overcome by the use of S-PCNs which provide increased access times, smaller gaps in contact between the satellites and ground stations, and easier tracking of satellite health. In this thesis, the capabilities of S-PCNs for communications with a nano-satellite are explored. Software simulation and analysis have been performed to assess system performance. Ground testing of the hardware is done to understand the use of such systems for small satellites

    BRITE-Constellation: Data processing and photometry

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    The BRITE mission is a pioneering space project aimed at the long-term photometric monitoring of the brightest stars in the sky by means of a constellation of nano-satellites. Its main advantage is high photometric accuracy and time coverage inaccessible from the ground. The main aim of this paper is the presentation of procedures used to obtain high-precision photometry from a series of images acquired by the BRITE satellites in two modes of observing, stare and chopping. We developed two pipelines corresponding to the two modes of observing. The assessment of the performance of both pipelines is presented. It is based on two comparisons, which use data from six runs of the UniBRITE satellite: (i) comparison of photometry obtained by both pipelines on the same data, which were partly affected by charge transfer inefficiency (CTI), (ii) comparison of real scatter with theoretical expectations. It is shown that for CTI-affected observations, the chopping pipeline provides much better photometry than the other pipeline. For other observations, the results are comparable only for data obtained shortly after switching to chopping mode. Starting from about 2.5 years in orbit, the chopping mode of observing provides significantly better photometry for UniBRITE data than the stare mode. This paper shows that high-precision space photometry with low-cost nano-satellites is achievable. The proposed meth- ods, used to obtain photometry from images affected by high impulsive noise, can be applied to data from other space missions or even to data acquired from ground-based observations

    On Small Satellites for Oceanography: A Survey

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    The recent explosive growth of small satellite operations driven primarily from an academic or pedagogical need, has demonstrated the viability of commercial-off-the-shelf technologies in space. They have also leveraged and shown the need for development of compatible sensors primarily aimed for Earth observation tasks including monitoring terrestrial domains, communications and engineering tests. However, one domain that these platforms have not yet made substantial inroads into, is in the ocean sciences. Remote sensing has long been within the repertoire of tools for oceanographers to study dynamic large scale physical phenomena, such as gyres and fronts, bio-geochemical process transport, primary productivity and process studies in the coastal ocean. We argue that the time has come for micro and nano satellites (with mass smaller than 100 kg and 2 to 3 year development times) designed, built, tested and flown by academic departments, for coordinated observations with robotic assets in situ. We do so primarily by surveying SmallSat missions oriented towards ocean observations in the recent past, and in doing so, we update the current knowledge about what is feasible in the rapidly evolving field of platforms and sensors for this domain. We conclude by proposing a set of candidate ocean observing missions with an emphasis on radar-based observations, with a focus on Synthetic Aperture Radar.Comment: 63 pages, 4 figures, 8 table

    CUSTARD (Cranfield University Space Technology Advanced Research Demonstrator) - A Micro-System Technology Demonstrator Nanosatellite. Summary of the Group Design Project MSc in Astronautics and Space Engineering. 1999-2000, Cranfield University

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    CUSTARD (Cranfield University Space Technology And Research Demonstrator) was the group design project for students of the MSc in Astronautics and Space Engineering for the Academic Year 1999/2000 at Cranfield University. The project involved the initial design of a nanosatellite to be used as a technology demonstrator for microsystem technology (MST) in space. The students worked together as one group (organised into several subgroups, e.g. system, mechanical), with each student responsible for a set of work packages. The nanosatellite designed had a mass of 4 kg, lifetime of 3 months in low Earth orbit, coarse 3-axis attitude control (no orbit control), and was capable of carrying up to 1 kg of payload. The electrical power available was 18 W (peak). Assuming a single X-band ground station at RAL (UK), a data rate of up to 1 M bit s-1 for about 3000 s per day is possible. The payloads proposed are a microgravity laboratory and a formation flying experiment. The report summarises the results of the project and includes executive summaries from all team members. Further information and summaries of the full reports are available from the College of Aeronautics, Cranfield University

    Novel attitude control devices for CubeSat satellites

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    In recent years a very modern trend of space exploration activities – constructing, launching and operating nano-satellites, became very popular. One of the main problems in implementation and control of nano-satellite is ensuring accurate yet simple and small-sized attitude control equipment. Most of the equipment implemented for that task in the past was large, bulky and could be hardly used on extremely small CubeSat standard nano-satellites. The equipment under development for attitude control of the satellites is described in this paper. The equipment relies on implementation of piezoelectric transducers for rotation of spherical body – reaction sphere, thus ensuring precise three-axis attitude control of the satellite by means of single device. Description of the device under development with some calculations and examples of implementation of such instrumentation is further described in the paper

    MISAT: Designing a Series of Powerful Small Satellites Based upon Micro Systems Technology

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    MISAT is a research and development cluster which will create a small satellite platform based on Micro Systems Technology (MST) aiming at innovative space as well as terrestrial applications. MISAT is part of the Dutch MicroNed program which has established a microsystems infrastructure to fully exploit the MST knowledge chain involving public and industrial partners alike. The cluster covers MST-related developments for the spacecraft bus and payload, as well as the satellite architecture. Particular emphasis is given to distributed systems in space to fully exploit the potential of miniaturization for future mission concepts. Examples of current developments are wireless sensor and actuator networks with plug and play characteristics, autonomous digital Sun sensors, re-configurable radio front ends with minimum power consumption, or micro-machined electrostatic accelerometer and gradiometer system for scientific research in fundamental physics as well as geophysics. As a result of MISAT, a first nano-satellite will be launched in 2007 to demonstrate the next generation of Sun sensors, power subsystems and satellite architecture technology. Rapid access to in-orbit technology demonstration and verification will be provided by a series of small satellites. This will include a formation flying mission, which will increasingly rely on MISAT technology to improve functionality and reduce size, mass and power for advanced technology demonstration and novel scientific applications.
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