Aerodynamic Technologies for Earth Observation Missions in Very Low Earth Orbit

Jonathan Becedas, Gerardo González, Rosa María Domínguez, David Gonzalez, Peter Roberts, Nicholas Crisp, Katharine Smith, Steve Edmondson, Sarah Haigh, Vitor Toshiyuki Abrao Oiko, Rachel Lyons, Stephen Worrall, Sabrina Livadiotti, Leonardo Ghizoni, Victor Jungnell, Kristian Bay, Jonas Morsbøl, Georg H. Herdrich, Francesco Romano, Tilman BinderAdam Boxberger, Stefanos Fasoulas, Constantin Traub, Daniel García, Silvia Rodríguez, Miquel Sureda, Dhiren Kataria, Ron Outlaw, Rachel Villain, Jose Santiago Perez, Alexis Conte, Badia Belkouchi, Ameli Schwalber, Barbara Heisserer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Flying at VLEO has several advantages such as the increase of the resolution of images recorded by optical instruments, the increase of geospatial position accuracy, the improvement of the signal to noise ratio and the reduction of energy consumption by active payloads. However, the drag produced by the interaction of the atmospheric gas particles with the surfaces of the spacecraft requires an extended knowledge of orbital aerodynamics. The aim of this work is to carry out a study from the principles of orbital aerodynamics to the definition of requirements for a set of satellite platforms covering Earth Observation applications taking advantageof operating in Very Low Earth Orbit (VLEO) and making use of aerodynamic technologies. Four platform concepts were defined: optical coverage platforms, optical Very High Resolution (VHR) for high performance platforms, low cost optical VHR platforms and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) platforms. In addition, the main orbit and attitude control operations to be done with these concepts were analyzed. A relation between the different mission concepts and the performances to be obtained with enhanced aerodynamics was established to identify which of the four platform concepts could perform as a commercial platform to guarantee the use for different applications.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication16th Reinventing Space Conference
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 30 Oct 2018
Event16th Reinventing Space Conference - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 30 Oct 20181 Nov 2018


Conference16th Reinventing Space Conference
Abbreviated titleRISpace
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • National Graphene Institute


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