Periodically Launched, Dedicated CubeSats/SmallSats for Space Situational Awareness Through NASA Communications Networks

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Erik M Stromberg1, Harry Shaw2, Polly Estabrook3, Tim L. Neilsen1, Jake Gunther4, Charles Swenson4, Chad S Fish5 and Scott H Schaire6, (1)Space Dynamics Laboratory, North Logan, UT, United States, (2)NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States, (3)NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States, (4)Utah State University, Logan, UT, United States, (5)Atmospheric and Space Technology Research Associates LLC, Boulder, CO, United States, (6)NASA Wallops Flight Center, Wallops Island, VA, United States
Space Situational Awareness (SSA) is an area where spaceflight activities and missions can directly influence the quality of life on earth. The combination of space weather, near earth orbiting objects, atmospheric conditions at the space boundary, and other phenomena can have significant short-term and long-term implications for the inhabitants of this planet. The importance of SSA has led to increased activity in this area from both space and ground based platforms. The emerging capability of CubeSats and SmallSats provides an opportunity for these low-cost, versatile platforms to augment the SSA infrastructure. The CubeSats and SmallSats can be launched opportunistically with shorter lead times than larger missions. They can be organized both as constellations or individual sensor elements. Combining CubeSats and SmallSats with the existing NASA communications networks (TDRS Space Network, Deep Space Network and the Near Earth Network) provide a backbone structure for SSA which can be tied to a SSA portal for data distribution and management. In this poster we will describe the instruments and sensors needed for CubeSat and SmallSat SSA missions. We will describe the architecture and concept of operations for a set of opportunistic, periodically launched, SSA CubeSats and SmallSats. We will also describe the integrated communications infrastructure to support end-to-end data delivery and management to a SSA portal.