Do Satellites Have to be This Dumb?


Satellites rely on telecommands from the ground in order to maintain health and collect data. This underutilises time on the satellite as waiting for passes over groundstations leads to delays in communication and download. Future missions may involve multiple satellites working in unison and tasking across satellites requires coordination. Increasingly missions use multiple groundstations for download and tasking.

This seminar will present concepts developed for a system that significantly reduces the influence of the groundstation when operating single or multiple satellites in formation. The presentation is based upon the work of several PhD students working in SSC developing an autonomous flexible way of managing formations of satellites in a dynamic environment of shifting demands and needs. The seminar will consider how satellites could perform individual scheduling to maximise data collection while ensuring routine maintenance, how formations of satellites may coordinate activity while minimising the inter-satellite cross-talk, and maintain a flexible system that will adjust to changing circumstances.

The talk aims to provide an accessible description of the concepts of decision making, learning and stygmergy to the non-specialist, with the aim to open a debate about future mission management. Results will be presented of the improvement in data collection and responsiveness as well as some discussion of overall system performance through queuing models.