Satellite Mission Design

Posted on Jul 26, 2012 | 9 comments


Earth observation satellites have emerged as the preeminent tool for consistent and high-resolution imagery. The eyeON mission is designed to provide rapid on-demand sub three meter resolution imagery as well as generate a database of regions of interest. In the following document, the eyeON team proposes a multi-use satellite observation system capable of servicing many constituents in different areas of study.



Call for Proposals

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) plans to launch a high resolution optical system (2-10 m resolution) with the emphasis of multi-temporal capabilities. The focus shall be on a rapid return time and the possibility to acquire images on a daily basis. The satellite image data will be offered to research, national agencies as well as to private customers. Customers in the field of agriculture, insurance and disaster management will be provided with tailored thematic products, which in time-critical situations can be delivered within 1-4 days. DLR is searching for a private company, willing to be the private partner and investor of the mission. The company should have the technical know-how and capability to design such a mission. This is a call for proposals for mission analysis and design upon which DLR will decide on the award of a contract.


Mission Requirements:

The constellation of the satellites should ensure the capability of global coverage within one day. The main payload should consist of a multi-spectral camera with the high geometric resolution (2-10 m). Users shall be provided with adequate image data including thematic maps. The distribution of the data shall go through the internet and user portals. The satellites shall be small and cost-effective.



Your task is, to work out a proposal for a satellite mission following the above requirements. The mission proposal of your group is to be presented and defended in a final presentation. Your group shall compete with the other groups for the awarding of the contract. Your proposal shall also be handed in as a written document.

Your proposal should contain the following items:

Scientific objectives:

Your proposal shall state that your satellite mission meets the user requirements. Give the relevance to the mission. What are the commercial and scientific objectives that such a mission should meet? Are there any complementary missions?

Mission design:

A key point is the selection of the payload. Which spectral bands are necessary for your mission? What is the spatial, radiometric and temporal distribution? Select adequate instruments and describe typical sensor concepts, specific properties and pros and cons of different sensor types. Discuss and justify your final selection criteria.

Select adequate orbital parameters for the satellite constellation. How many satellites will be used? Consider a possible repeat cycle (yes/no?), the ground track pattern, sampling and ground resolution. Visualize the selected configuration. Also care about a reasonable mission life time. Find a suitable design for the spacecraft. Which platform will be used?


Final Presentation

As a result of the group work we came up with the following final presentation:

  • ESPACE Satellite Mission Project ESPACE Satellite Mission Project
  • Mission Objectives Mission Objectives
  • Top Level Requirements Top Level Requirements
  • Applications Applications
  • Satellite Constellation Satellite Constellation
  • Satellite Constellation Groundtracks for 24h Satellite Constellation Groundtracks for 24h
  • Satellite Constellation over Germany Satellite Constellation over Germany
  • Satellite Constellation Coverage Satellite Constellation Coverage
  • Launcher Selection Launcher Selection
  • Satellite Constellation Ground Segment Satellite Constellation Ground Segment
  • Satellite Constellation Visibility Time Satellite Constellation Visibility Time
  • Ground Segment Communication Ground Segment Communication
  • Ground Segment Architecture Ground Segment Architecture
  • Satellie Bus Design Satellie Bus Design
  • Sensor System Sensor System
  • Pushbroom Scanner Pushbroom Scanner
  • Power System Power System
  • Power Budget Power Budget
  • Thermal Control System Thermal Control System
  • Structural Architecture Structural Architecture
  • Attitude Determination Control Attitude Determination Control
  • Product Delivery Chain Product Delivery Chain
  • Final Products Final Products
  • Mission Costs Mission Costs

Final Report


Executive Summary

Earth observation satellites have emerged as the preeminent tool for consistent and high-resolution imagery. The eyeON mission is designed to provide rapid on-demand sub three meter resolution imagery as well as generate a database of regions of interest. In the following document, the eyeON team proposes a multi-use satellite observation system capable of servicing many constituents in different areas of study.

The consistent illumination conditions experienced by the satellites can provide similar illumination conditions across the mission lifetime. Customers requesting images of crops may analyze growth cycles at monthly and yearly intervals. The land usage in developing regions is observable as well. This type of data in the visual and near infrared spectrum is of particular interest to land management programs of governmental agencies and agricultural customers.

The constellation of five satellites in a walker orbit enables the entire Earth to experience an overflight within a 24-hour period. This short revisit rate carries distinct advantages over other systems when the satellites are tasked with capturing images of disaster-affected areas. The quick response time of one day enables the distribution of level 3 image products to the customer within one day of request to image.

A multispectral camera on each satellite captures images at a high resolution useful to insurance agencies in assessing damages. Objects such as damaged buildings or burned ground areas are visible in the eyeON products.

Combination of the images taken from the eyeON system with imagery in other spectral ranges can greatly enhance utility. The high-resolution visible range images of eyeON may be combined with SAR products to provide three dimensional surface models.

As a full member of the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters, the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) would increase its contribution through the eyeON mission. As the use of satellite imagery grows, the DLR would remain a key player in the contribution of data to respond to the average of 300 disasters per year serviced by satellite missions.

The combination of high optical and temporal resolution provides the eyeON mission with distinct advantages over existing missions. A steady demand for satellite imagery and a flexible platform.


Cite as: Eren, M., Fathalrahman, A., Hannon S., Schmidt, D., Trebbin, N., “Proposal for high-resolution multi-temporal imaging satellite mission: eyeON”, ESPACE TUM, 2012


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