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CubeSats Applications for Earth and Prospectives for Planetary Remote Sensing

A special issue of Remote Sensing (ISSN 2072-4292). This special issue belongs to the section "Satellite Missions for Earth and Planetary Exploration".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 October 2022) | Viewed by 17233

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica – Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali, Via del Fosso del Cavaliere 100, 00133 Rome, Italy
Interests: planetary science; planetary spectroscopy; astrobiology; hyperspectral data analysis; instrumentation for planetary remote sensing
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Co-Guest Editor
Italian Space Agency, Via del Politecnico snc, 00133 Rome, Italy
Interests: exploration architectures; space project management
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

CubeSats are involved in a wide range of remote sensing applications. They provide technology demonstrations for Earth science missions, but the scientific community is just starting to exploit CubeSats and CubeSat-derived small satellites in other fields.

CubeSats and platforms taking advantage of CubeSat technology have the potential to make unique contributions to planetary science by creating unique vantage points or multipoint measurements. CubeSats can also be used as platforms for technology demonstration to enable future large missions.

This Special Issue aims at collecting new developments and methodologies, best practices and applications of CubeSats for Earth with perspectives for planetary remote sensing. We would like to invite you to submit articles about your recent research, including, but not limited to (review articles covering one or more of these topics are also very welcome):

  • Current and future programs
  • Technology developments
  • Platforms and new sensors on board (multispectral, hyperspectral, thermal, lidar, dust, magnetic field, gas or radioactivity sensors, etc.)
  • Data analysis (image classification, feature extraction, target detection, change detection, etc.)
  • Real time processing, onboard data storage and transmission
  • Data fusion: integration of CubeSat imagery with satellite, aerial or terrestrial data, integration of heterogeneous data captured by CubeSats
  • Applications: (geology, minerals mapping, 3D mapping, atmospheric science, climatology and meteorology, etc.)
  • CubeSats for education with applications to remote sensing

You may choose our Joint Special Issue in Universe.

Dr. Giancarlo Bellucci
Dr. Simone Pirrotta
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Remote Sensing is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2700 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • CubeSats
  • Sensors
  • Multispectral imaging
  • Hyperspectral imaging
  • Geology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Atmospheric science
  • Feature extraction
  • Data fusion

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Published Papers (5 papers)

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13 pages, 3382 KiB  
Article
Optimal On-Orbit Inspection of Satellite Formation
by Andrea Caruso, Alessandro A. Quarta, Giovanni Mengali and Marco Bassetto
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(20), 5192; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14205192 - 17 Oct 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1759
Abstract
In a formation-flying mission where multiple spacecraft must cooperate and maintain a prescribed relative separation, the early detection of possible anomalies is a primary requirement. This is possible, for example, by employing an inspector spacecraft whose aim is to monitor the condition of [...] Read more.
In a formation-flying mission where multiple spacecraft must cooperate and maintain a prescribed relative separation, the early detection of possible anomalies is a primary requirement. This is possible, for example, by employing an inspector spacecraft whose aim is to monitor the condition of the formation members with an on-orbit inspection. This paper analyzes a rest-to-rest multiple-impulse transfer that the inspector spacecraft must accomplish to visit all of the formation members. The problem is studied using the linearized Hill–Clohessy–Wiltshire equations and is solved in an optimal framework by minimizing the total velocity variation along the transfer trajectory. The solution algorithm implements a two-step procedure that combines differential evolution algorithms and Nelder–Mead simplex method-based routines. A case study is thoroughly investigated where a formation of six satellites covers a circular orbit of altitude 300km over Earth. The proposed algorithm could efficiently find a solution and with reduced computational times. Full article
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19 pages, 5085 KiB  
Article
Mothership-Cubesat Radioscience for Phobos Geodesy and Autonomous Navigation
by Hongru Chen, Nicolas Rambaux, Valéry Lainey and Daniel Hestroffer
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(7), 1619; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14071619 - 28 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2638
Abstract
The knowledge of the interior structure (e.g., homogeneous, porous, or fractured) of Martian moons will lead to a better understanding of their formation as well as the early solar system. One approach to inferring the interior structure is via geodetic characteristics, such as [...] Read more.
The knowledge of the interior structure (e.g., homogeneous, porous, or fractured) of Martian moons will lead to a better understanding of their formation as well as the early solar system. One approach to inferring the interior structure is via geodetic characteristics, such as gravity field and libration. Geodetic parameters can be derived from radiometric tracking measurements. A feasible mothership-CubeSat mission is proposed in this study with following purposes, (1) performing inter-sat Doppler measurements, (2) improving the understanding of Phobos as well as the dynamic model, (3) securing the mothership as well as the primary mission, and (4) supporting autonomous navigation, given the long distance between the Earth and Mars. This study analyzes budgets of volume, mass, power, deployment Δv, and link, and the Doppler measurement noise of the system, and gives a feasible design for the CubeSat. The accuracy of orbit determination and geodesy is revealed via the Monte-Carlo simulation of estimation considering all uncertainties. Under an ephemeris error of the Mars-Phobos system ranging from 0 to 2 km, the autonomous orbit determination delivers an accuracy ranging from 0.2 m to 21 m and 0.05 mm/s to 0.4 cm/s. The geodesy can return 2nd-degree gravity coefficients at an accuracy of 1‰, even in the presence of an ephemeris error of 2 km. The achieved covariance of gravity coefficients and libration amplitude indicates an excellent possibility to distinguish families of interior structures. Full article
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21 pages, 2652 KiB  
Article
RMCSat: An F10.7 Solar Flux Index CubeSat Mission
by Heather Taylor, Melissa Vreugdenburg, L. Sangalli and Ron Vincent
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(23), 4754; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13234754 - 24 Nov 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3278
Abstract
The F10.7 solar flux index is a measure of microwave solar emissions at a wavelength of 10.7 cm or 2800 MHz. It is widely used in thermosphere and ionosphere models as an indicator of solar activity and is recorded at only one terrestrial [...] Read more.
The F10.7 solar flux index is a measure of microwave solar emissions at a wavelength of 10.7 cm or 2800 MHz. It is widely used in thermosphere and ionosphere models as an indicator of solar activity and is recorded at only one terrestrial observatory in Penticton, Canada during daylight hours. The lack of geographical and temporal coverage of F10.7 measurements and no external redundancy to the existing system has led to the development of the RMCSat mission, which seeks to demonstrate the feasibility of collecting microwave solar flux emissions from a space-based platform. RMCSat is the first CubeSat mission by the Royal Military College of Canada. It offers a training environment for personnel in space mission analysis and design, satellite assembly, integration and testing, and satellite operations. This paper introduces the mission concept and preliminary design of a space-based solution that captures solar density flux measurements during each orbit as the Sun passes through the boresight of the primary payload antenna. In addition to two channels recording the 2800 MHz frequency (2785 MHz and 2815 MHz), a third channel records 2695 MHz using the same calibration standard to determine if the United States Radio Solar Telescope Network (RSTN) could be leveraged to supplement the existing F10.7 solar flux measurements and improve solar flux approximations. The RMCSat mission, satellite design, and system budgets are demonstrated here as being viable. Future design considerations pertain to the payload antennas and achievable launch orbits. Full article
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19 pages, 2903 KiB  
Article
HORUS: Multispectral and Multiangle CubeSat Mission Targeting Sub-Kilometer Remote Sensing Applications
by Alice Pellegrino, Maria Giulia Pancalli, Andrea Gianfermo, Paolo Marzioli, Federico Curianò, Federica Angeletti, Fabrizio Piergentili and Fabio Santoni
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(12), 2399; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13122399 - 19 Jun 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 4134
Abstract
This paper presents the HORUS mission, aimed at multispectral and multiangle (nadir and off-nadir) planetary optical observation, using Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) instruments on-board a 6-Unit CubeSat. The collected data are characterized by a sub-kilometer resolution, useful for different applications for environmental monitoring, atmospheric [...] Read more.
This paper presents the HORUS mission, aimed at multispectral and multiangle (nadir and off-nadir) planetary optical observation, using Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) instruments on-board a 6-Unit CubeSat. The collected data are characterized by a sub-kilometer resolution, useful for different applications for environmental monitoring, atmospheric characterization, and ocean studies. Latest advancements in electro-optical instrumentation permit to consider an optimized instrument able to fit in a small volume, in principle without significant reduction in the achievable performances with respect to typical large-spacecraft implementations. CubeSat-based platforms ensure high flexibility, with fast and simple components’ integration, and may be used as stand-alone system or in synergy with larger missions, for example to improve revisit time. The mission rationale, its main objectives and scientific background, including the combination of off-nadir potential continuous multiangle coverage in a full perspective and related observation bands are provided. The observation system conceptual design and its installation on-board a 6U CubeSat bus, together with the spacecraft subsystems are discussed, assessing the feasibility of the mission and its suitability as a building block for a multiplatform distributed system. Full article
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13 pages, 12680 KiB  
Technical Note
A Femto-Satellite Localization Method Based on TDOA and AOA Using Two CubeSats
by Matías G. Vidal-Valladares and Marcos A. Díaz
Remote Sens. 2022, 14(5), 1101; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs14051101 - 24 Feb 2022
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2351
Abstract
This article presents a feasibility analysis to remotely estimate the geo-location of a femto-satellite only using two station-CubeSats and the communication link between the femto-satellite and each CubeSat. The presented approach combines the Time Difference Of Arrival (TDOA) and Angle Of Arrival (AOA) [...] Read more.
This article presents a feasibility analysis to remotely estimate the geo-location of a femto-satellite only using two station-CubeSats and the communication link between the femto-satellite and each CubeSat. The presented approach combines the Time Difference Of Arrival (TDOA) and Angle Of Arrival (AOA) methods. We present the motivation, the envisioned solution together with the constraints for reaching it, and the best potential sensitivity of the location precision for different (1) deployment scenarios of the femto-satellite, (2) precisions in the location of the CubeSats, and (3) precisions in each CubeSat’s Attitude Determination and Control Systems (ADCS). We implemented a simulation tool to evaluate the average performance for different random scenarios in space. For the evaluated cases, we found that the Cramér-Rao Bound (CRB) for Gaussian noise over the small error region of the solution is highly dependent on the deployment direction, with differences in the location precision close to three orders of magnitude between the best and worst deployment directions. For the best deployment case, we also studied the best location estimation that might be achieved with the current Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and ADCS commercially available for CubeSats. We found that the mean-square error (MSE) matrix of the proposed solution under the small error condition can attain the CRB for the simulated time, achieving a precision below 30 m when the femto-satellite is separated by around 800 m from the mother-CubeSat. Full article
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