You can get involved in one of our ongoing research projects! First, apply here to be a member of the Small Satellites Project Group and then contact the coordinator of the research in which you are interested.
Current Research Activities
“A Feasibility Study For Project Giga: Using Satellite Constellations To Provide Internet To Disconnected Schools”
This paper will analyze the growth of interest in the small satellite communications sector and to afford background knowledge on the technological capabilities of current providers. A feasibility study is performed to assess the main actors in the field and their ability to contribute to Project GIGA’s ultimate goal of connectivity for every school. Through a multifaceted lens, the paper identifies the benefits and potential obstacles of constellation-based satellite broadband internet. Where necessary, possible solutions and workarounds are explored to allow a coherent assessment on the practicality of Project GIGA’s connectivity objective. With this research Project GIGA will have a baseline to begin their outreach and development initiatives.
“Machine Learning for Earth Observation Small Satellites: A Review”
While satellite image processing has benefitted massively from the ongoing AI revolution, the same cannot be said for other aspects of the Earth Observation industry. This project’s aim is to act as a bridge between the Earth Observation small satellite community and the machine learning community, highlighting potential opportunities. We will develop a State of the Art review exploring all on-board and off-board applications of Machine Learning to Earth Observation outside of image processing on ground. The review is to be published at a main space industry venue and it will be complemented by outreach material to expand on noteworthy concepts found during its development.
“Mission Design for In-Orbit Demonstration of Active Debris Removal through an Ion Beam Shepherd Small Satellite”
The continuous use of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) poses several risks when companies focus on near term business success rather than long term sustainability and safety of operations. This project explores the technological challenges of one of the mission concepts for active debris removal, i.e.: the Ion Beam Shepherd, and proposes strategies and the required steps to propose a demonstration mission, this includes proximity operations, on-orbit inspection and the possibility to perform contactless deorbiting of a non-cooperative target in order to achieve safety of operations. An overview of the different approaches is provided, analyzing the current architectures and technologies.
“A Review of Near Future Optical Technology for High-Speed and Secure CubeSat Communications”
The next generation of high speed and secure communication is envisioned using Lasercom photonic modules. These components allow great compactness and efficiency of use suitable for CubeSat type satellites. How they will be integrated into existing RF systems remains an ongoing topic. This project follows the current technological readiness of lasercom and their integration into small satellites.
“Analytical Demonstration of Artificial Intelligence Assisted Swarm CubeSats for Active Debris Removal in LEO ”
Space debris is considered as a serious problem it has to averted as it has the potential to be a spoilsport for any space missions. In past decades numerous Space debris capturing and removal methods have been proposed. However, the amount of debris in the LEO orbit rather than decreasing it just accumulated even before. This paper aims to bring a new, economical and efficient solution to remove space junk. using swarm robotics technology The paper discusses the functionality and feasibility of the proposal. In addition to that, it explains how this concept can be effective comparing to other past proposals and describes how the prototypes will be developed.
“Small Satellites potential for Greenhouse Gas and CO2 Monitoring”
Small satellites can improve the global emission mapping coverage and image update rates, which will improve the understanding of the CO2 and GHG dynamics. Today there are several small satellite missions carrying hyperspectral Short-Wave Infrared Imaging (SWIR) imaging instrumentation, providing gas emissions data. However, alternative missions, instrumentation combinations and satellite architectures are possible. This paper aims to analyse the requirements for the emission sensing instrumentation for the installation on the small satellite platform. It is reviewed together with small satellite platform architecture and the use cases. From that, the rational mission profile for small satellite utilisation for the monitoring is derived.
“Low-Thrust Trajectory Design and Mars Orbit Insertion Strategies for Interplanetary Cubesats”
This paper focuses on interplanetary CubeSats in Mars orbit. It considers Earth-Mars trajectory design from launch to Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI). Three CubeSat options (3U, 6U and 12U) are assessed and compared, taking into account different low-thrust propulsive technologies such as gridded ion thrusters and Hall-effect thrusters. Several options for orbit capture at Mars are evaluated to cover different mission profiles depending on the arrival conditions and targeted orbital parameters. In this context, this research paper provides a useful baseline for the trajectory design of interplanetary CubeSats missions to Mars and shows that CubeSats can successfully be integrated to support interplanetary missions.
Concluded Research Activities
“Optical Communications for Small Satellites: A Review of Pointing Strategies & Requirements Optimization”
Research Objective: Analysis of demand and use-cases for future Mars constellations and feasibility study of a smallsat constellation to provide global communication services on Mars.
Support organizations: Crowdspace
Wischert D., Baranwal P., Bonnart S., Álvarez M., Colpari R., Daryabari M., Desai S., Dhoju S., Fajardo G., Faldu B., López-Contreras González E., Low P., Malcolm K., Mardhani S., Miralles P., Mohanty J., Morchedi S., More H., Ortega-González H., Parasuram S., Romero M., Santra S., Somkuwar A., Soni K., Stepanova D., Thangavel K., Vinayak Bhale K., Zainab R.
During 2020 we have accomplished the following goals:
Conducted series of workshops, such as Iranian International Cubesat Event, USA Summer Space Camp, among others.
Conducted research paper activities, two of them accepted and presented at IAC 2020.
Established several partnerships and developed an advisory board to support the research activities: UNICEF, ScanWay, CrowdSpace, German Orbital Systems.