2012.A.2.4 Optimal Operations Planning for Interplanetary Small Satellite Exploration Missions Applied to a Phobos Lander Mission


Sara Spangelo (1) and James Cutler (1)

  1. University of Michigan


A.2 – Technology – Communications, Planning, Operations, and Computing Issues for Interplanetary CubeSat Missions


operations, optimization, communication


This paper develops an analytic modeling, simulation, and optimization framework of space networks to enable mission design and operational planning. We incorporate key modeling elements necessary to address a challenging class of emerging missions- small satellites exploring interplanetary targets. The model includes interactions between satellite states, subsystems, operational opportunities, and the external space environment and includes a dynamic link budget. We formulate an optimization problem that considers the coupling between payload operations and downloading data as the decisions. We demonstrate applicability of the modeling, analysis, and optimization framework to an example interplanetary CubeSat mission and identify key properties of the optimal solutions.

We investigate the sensitivity of the solutions to model parameters, including dynamic data rates, power generation, and antenna gains. The framework developed in this paper is applicable to general classes of space missions for both near-Earth and interplanetary missions.


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  • Low quality video available here


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