Session

Technical Session VI: Strength in Numbers

SSC13-VI-9.pdf (20951 kB)
Presentation Slides

Abstract

Two thematic drivers are motivating the science community towards constellations of small satellites, the revelation that many next generation system science questions are uniquely addressed with sufficient numbers of simultaneous space based measurements, and the realization that space is historically expensive, and in an environment of constrained costs, we must innovate to ―do more with less‖. We present analysis that answers many of the key questions surrounding constellations of scientific satellites, including research that resulted from the GEOScan community based effort originally intended as hosted payloads on Iridium NEXT. We present analysis that answers the question how many satellites does global system science require? Perhaps serendipitously, the analyses show that many of the key science questions independently converge towards similar results, i.e. that 20-40 satellites are needed for transformative, as opposed to incremental capability in system science. We focus on climate and gravity science as demonstrations of these findings. We also present analysis on the additional functional design elements of a science constellation such as launch and operations strategies, and new models for risk, mission costing, construction, and contracting that are adapted from the commercial satellite industry that enable significant cost savings. Data from actual recent design (such as the newly awarded RAVAN cube-sat mission) and build efforts are presented to support these assertions. We conclude with a discussion on implementation plans and the new paradigms for community and international cooperation enabled by small satellite constellations.

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Aug 13th, 5:45 PM

Small-Sat Science Constellations: Why and How

Two thematic drivers are motivating the science community towards constellations of small satellites, the revelation that many next generation system science questions are uniquely addressed with sufficient numbers of simultaneous space based measurements, and the realization that space is historically expensive, and in an environment of constrained costs, we must innovate to ―do more with less‖. We present analysis that answers many of the key questions surrounding constellations of scientific satellites, including research that resulted from the GEOScan community based effort originally intended as hosted payloads on Iridium NEXT. We present analysis that answers the question how many satellites does global system science require? Perhaps serendipitously, the analyses show that many of the key science questions independently converge towards similar results, i.e. that 20-40 satellites are needed for transformative, as opposed to incremental capability in system science. We focus on climate and gravity science as demonstrations of these findings. We also present analysis on the additional functional design elements of a science constellation such as launch and operations strategies, and new models for risk, mission costing, construction, and contracting that are adapted from the commercial satellite industry that enable significant cost savings. Data from actual recent design (such as the newly awarded RAVAN cube-sat mission) and build efforts are presented to support these assertions. We conclude with a discussion on implementation plans and the new paradigms for community and international cooperation enabled by small satellite constellations.