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Content archived on 2024-05-07

Co-ordinated constellation of user defined satellites


The overall objective of the COCONUDS proposal for a Concerted Action [CA] is to ascertain the practicality of a radically different low-cost, distributed network approach to satellite earth observation. New thinking from a user perspective, and new technological opportunities suggests that by bringing together European expertise in low-cost [srnall, mini and micro] satellite and ground station development in a co-operative venture, it should be possible to finance and develop a cost-effective, sustainable, and user-friendly constellation of earth observation satellites, to meet the many as yet unsatisfied needs of local decision makers for local environmental information.
The CA comprises three primary objectives and these are reflected in the content of the proposed programme tasks:
1. to examine the extent that local decision making needs for environmental data and information could be satisfied, with an estimate of the value of the better decisions that might be so obtained;
2. to assess technical feasibility [pre-feasibility study of technical opportunities and constraints] of meeting these needs through a suitable constellation of microsats; and,
3. to assess economic viability through an exploration of pertinent financial, political, social and institutional issues.
How best to approach the transition process towards a more useful and sustainable future EO network is the subject of this concerted action. It would appear that Europe has:
- sufficient need to assist the transition in terms of requirements for improved local management of many different local environments, all changing under conditions of relatively high population pressure; - sufficient microsat and ground segment technological capacity distributed through the region to carry the process forward;
- sufficient political incentive in terms of many small space programmes all seeking a practical mission, amid growing competition from the USA; - appropriate research and dissemination programmes within DGXII and the CEO; and,
- sufficient industrial power and launch capacity to deliver when required.
What is required is a catalyst to start the reaction process to bring all these elements together into a coherent programme.
This concerted action is proposed to DG XII as just such a catalyst.
The three specific objectives above represent the technical thrusts of the programme. It is proposed to host several technical discussion meetings and electronic fora at which pertinent issues are debated.
The purpose of the meetings and fora is to draw together the relevant European expertise in ground and space segments together with organizations representing the service support industry and key users of information. Bringing together these participants will generate cross-fertilisation of ideas and expert discussion of the pertinent issues concerning the concept. Each meeting and forum will start with a keynote paper on the subject, promoting provocative hypotheses and possibilities to stimulate interest, participation and discussion. The objectives of the electronic fora are: to stimulate pertinent discussion; to attract new participants into the COCONUDS network; to identify progress and promising new developtnents in Europe; to help prioritise topics and participants for the discussion meetings; and, to help develop the available European medium (CEO/EWSE) for focussed discussions. Several electronic fora will be established on a number of key issues in line with the COCONUDS objectives.
The three specific objectives of the CA, representing the three principal thrusts, will be brought together to determine the outline feasibility of a European COCONUDS.

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Science Systems (Space) Limited
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23,Clothier Road
BS4 5SS Bristol
United Kingdom

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