Solar radiation pressure enabled femtosatellite based Earth remote sensing

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Abstract

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
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Feb 2020

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Keywords

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

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