Nanosatellite swarm support for larger satellites

Chris Verhoeven, Steven Engelen, Arash Noroozi, Marinus Jan Bentum, Prem Sundaramoorthy, Robert Meijer

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review


    Nano-satellites are small (less than 10 kg) and low cost satellites of which quite a number has been launched the last few years, mostly as university educational or research projects. The development of professional scientific and commercial applications is still in its infancy and there are only few examples of satellite mission developments yet where nanosatellites are the essential enabling technology. Examples are the OLFAR radio telescope, based on a swarm of nanosatellites in moon-orbit and a global AIS observation system based on nanosatellites by the company ISIS. These are new (niche) applications which are not easily implemented with more traditional satellites. Nanosatellites cooperating in a swarm, can form a large area (global) sensor network, increasing either the coverage or time resolution in an affordable way. However, generally the resolution and accuracy of the instruments which can be flown on a nanosatellite are not comparable to those of larger satellites. So swarms and constellations of larger satellites are optimal for different tasks. Large (high-cost) satellites can accommodate high performance payloads that provide excellent spatial resolution for observations, but tend to suffer from very limited time resolution (long revisit times) and coverage. In that sense nanosatellite swarms and systems of larger satellites seem to be complementary. So an architecture which integrates both systems into a single “eco-system‿ is bound to lead to an affordable observation platform that can meet societal needs much more easily, in the demand for both accurate and timely information. This paper discusses in detail aspects of such an eco-system. The paper also addresses potential sensor technology which can be accommodated on nanosatellite platforms.
    Original languageUndefined
    Title of host publication62nd International Astronautical Congress, IAC 2011
    Place of PublicationCape Town, Republic of South Africa
    PublisherInternational Astronautical Federation (IAF)
    Number of pages5
    ISBN (Print)not assigned
    Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2011
    Event62nd International Astronautical Congress, IAC 2011 - Cape Town, South Africa
    Duration: 3 Oct 20117 Oct 2011
    Conference number: 62

    Publication series

    PublisherInternational Astronautical Federation (IAF)


    Conference62nd International Astronautical Congress, IAC 2011
    Abbreviated titleIAC
    CountrySouth Africa
    CityCape Town


    • METIS-279215
    • EWI-20727
    • IR-78324

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