Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Specific challenge: Observation concepts based on fractionated sensors (e.g. telescope arrays) have revolutionised astronomy, and their observation potential from space (swarm missions, satellite constellations) has yet to be realised. This represents a departure from an approach of many different sensors residing on one satellite, in favour of many smaller single-sensor missions. It remains to be established for which areas of Earth observation (land monitoring, atmospheric measurements, water quality, maritime surveillance, emergency management, security,  etc.) this approach might be particularly effective, be it in performance, risk management and cost effectiveness. Equally, it needs to be understood which technologies would be needed to allow a network/constellation to act as one instrument. Specific requirements for the sensors may also be needed to allow benefit to be taken of such mission concepts.

Scope: Research should be undertaken to review the emerging fractionated observation system concepts. The required technology challenges as regards interfacing, synchronisation, formation flying, precision thrusting and pointing, communication within the constellation or with ground stations are to be identified. Potential benefits to be obtained (e.g. monitoring performance, risk mitigation, cost effectiveness, responsiveness) are to be examined in light of observation needs in different earth observation domains. Observation needs should be validated with the respective user communities to be fit for purpose in terms of scientific and commercial applications. Constellations of instruments might be of the same instrument type, or include a variety of different instruments and related data fusion approaches. Demands for data transfers and communication should be examined in light of current developments of high-speed in-space communication methodologies. The results obtained should enable mission designers and implementers to decide what missions should be initiated for which application areas, and the requirements for communications support.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 2.5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact: Proposals are expected to contribute to increasing the effectiveness of future developments by addressing

·         significant advances in performance

·         greater coherency between different measurement sources,

·         mission planning parameters,

·         mission scalability and incremental deployment.

Type of action: Research and innovation actions

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