Solar radiation pressure enabled femtosatellite based Earth remote sensing

J. Cao, C. Clemente, C. R. McInnes, J. J. Soraghan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
38 Downloads (Pure)


Recent developments in electronics have pushed miniaturised satellites to the femto-scale, with masses between 10 and 100 g. Although femtosatellites have been proven as a feasible concept, most designs are limited in mission capacity and lifetime due to the lack of environmental protection and onboard propellant. In this paper, a novel concept for femtosatellites for Earth remote sensing is proposed. In particular, a swarm of femtosatellites are used as elements of a sparse array in orbit to receive radar echoes. They also feature active orbit control enabled by solar radiation pressure to extend their lifetime. A simple active orbit control algorithm has been demonstrated. A mission concept based on a Sun-synchronous circular orbit is proposed to maximise the benefit for both Earth remote sensing and active orbit control. A synthetic aperture radar mission has been used to characterise their performance.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems
Early online date7 Feb 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Feb 2020


  • femtosatellite
  • solar sailing
  • relative motion
  • Earth remote sensing
  • bi-static synthetic aperture radar


Dive into the research topics of 'Solar radiation pressure enabled femtosatellite based Earth remote sensing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this