2014.B.2.2 HOBOCOP – A Paradigm Supporting Interplanetary Small Satellites


Benjamin Corbin (1)

  1. MIT, USA




communications network magnetosphere orbits


The Heliocentric-Orbiting Baseline-Optimized Cosmos Observation Paradigm (HOBOCOP) is a proposed program that gradually builds an interplanetary satellite communications network while justifying its own mission costs to complete a major scientific study. The baseline scientific mission of HOBOCOP is to study the Sun’s magnetic field and constrain its spherical harmonic coefficients by measuring the field simultaneously from multiple small (~3μ CubeSat) spacecraft carrying magnetometers. However, these satellites would be too small and too numerous to effectively communicate with the Deep Space Network (DSN) at all times due to their distance from Earth. These satellites would require high autonomy and be able to operate for long periods of time without interaction, similar to HOBO® sensors. In order to mitigate this, a network of larger communicating orbital platforms (COPs) would be inserted into eccentric heliocentric orbits to periodically communicate with the HOBO satellites (HOBOS) and relay the data back to Earth. Because of the inherent flexibility of distributed satellites, HOBOCOP would be able operate on both mission-specific and programmatic levels: while carrying out its primary mission to study the Sun, the network of COPs would enable more missions that use small satellites. As the network expands, the network latency decreases while overall data throughput increases, building a viable interplanetary satellite internet network. Launching more COPs enables additional missions with more demanding requirements on network latency and data throughput. This would help relieve stress on the already over-subscribed DSN.


  • Coming soon (post workshop)

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