Data sink selection using consensus leadership: improving target connectivity for a spacecraft constellation

Ruaridh Clark, Ciara McGrath, Malcolm Macdonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The identification of optimal data sink nodes, which provide high data flow from all source nodes, is presented for a spacecraft constellation network. Selection relies on consensus dynamics, revealing how effective sinks in a data flow system equate to effective leaders in a networked system seeking a new consensus state. This has advantages over maximum flow analysis, including the assurance that connections to all source nodes affect the optimisation’s objective function. This is demonstrated for a systemcomposed of ground stations, satellites, and ground-targets, which are modelled as a network of weighted connections varying according to simulated contact times. The ground stations are data sinks, to which the spacecraft constellation downlink information after receiving data from overflying ground-targets that are sources. A model of the Spire Global, Inc. constellation of 84 satellites with 250 ground-targets - distributed throughout major shipping channels - is used to test combinations of ground station selections from 77 potential sites. Consensus leadership is compared with maximum flow, revealing that consensus-based selections notably improve the data delivered from the least-connected sources at a relatively small cost in terms of total data downlinked. Numerical simulationsconfirm the optimality of selections for small combinations of ground stations
Original languageEnglish
JournalIEEE Transactions on Network Science and Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2022


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