Near real-time telecommand solutions for CubeSats: State of the art and applications to the SkyHopper mission

Status Report From: e-Print archive
Posted: Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Robert Mearns (1), Michele Trenti (1) ((1) University of Melbourne)
(Submitted on 21 Aug 2018)

Cubesats and similarly scaled nano-satellites present significant opportunities for hosting both scientific and commercial payloads for Earth sensing and astronomical observations, in particular in the area of rapid-response observations to external triggers. However, one limiting factor to full exploitation of the CubeSat potential in this area lies in the traditional approach of ground-spacecraft communications, which is based on infrequent contact via a limited network of ground stations. An alternative is to leverage existing commercial machine-to-machine orbital networks to transmit the triggers in near-real-time. Here, we present an analysis framework for calculating the likelihood of a time to first contact and the length of contact under minimum guaranteed conditions for these networks. The analysis is then extended to likely operational conditions in orbit, and the results of a comparative trade study of a number of orbital networks are presented, with an emphasis on the applicability to the SkyHopper Space Telescope CubeSat, a nanosatellite astronomical observatory currently undergoing preliminary design. It was found that near-real- time telecommands could be transmitted to SkyHopper within 10min with a likelihood of 62% using the Globalstar network, or a likelihood of 74% using the Iridium network, under predicted nominal operational conditions in orbit. Future networks currently under development could improve these figures to reach greater than 98% coverage with a one second latency.
Comments:    12 pages, 8 figures, accepted for publication in peer-reviewed conference proceedings of the 17th Australian Space Research Conference

Subjects:    Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM)
Cite as:    arXiv:1808.06746 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:1808.06746v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)
Submission history
From: Robert Mearns 
[v1] Tue, 21 Aug 2018 03:11:10 GMT (1707kb,D)

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