Heterogeneous Spacecraft Networks

Heterogeneous Spacecraft Networks (TOP2-253)
Multiple spacecraft operating with various platforms use wireless technology to communicate
Heterogeneous Spacecraft Networks (HSNs) are network environments in which spacecraft from different missions and institutions can communicate with each other at a low-cost and with low impact on overall system resources. The technology of heterogeneous wireless networks has yet to be extended to space networks, where multiple spacecraft operating with various platforms use wireless technology to communicate. This communication need is growing given the increasing number of small satellites or nanosats being launched. Enabling such communication is significant, because connecting spacecraft offers a multiplier effect connecting limited capability spacecraft from small countries and institutions with more established networks that offer the possibility of an abundance of useful information for all concerned. In a growing sector where commercial space is ascending, allowing facile data transfer between a wide variety of space hardware and commercial communication platforms will soon be a necessity.

The Technology
Heterogeneous Spacecraft Networks address an emerging need, namely, the ability of satellites and other space-based assets to freely communicate with each other. While it appears that there has been no significant effort to date to address the application, emergence of such a solution is inevitable, given the rapidly-growing deployments of small satellites. These assets need to be able to communicate with each other and with global participants. Extending established global wireless network platforms like Wi-Fi and ZigBee to space-based assets will allow different satellite clusters to assist each other. For example, one cluster could provide images of the earths surface when another cluster is with out visibility at the needed time and location. More importantly, use of such common platforms will enable collaboration among individuals, institutions, and countries, each with limited assets of its own. Thus, allowing the incorporation of space-based assets into commercial wireless networks, and extending commercial communications into low Earth orbit satellites, access to satellite data will become ubiquitous.Similarly, some global networks will also benefit from the ability of a variety of nodes of different types to communicate with each other. One instance is in the emerging Internet of Things (IoT), where an enormous number of smart objects work together to provide customized solutions.
Cluster of Satellites
  • Reduced cost
  • Universal access
  • Extends the capabilities of individual satellite constellations
  • Increases efficiency
  • Brings the Internet of Things to space
  • Facilitates collaboration

  • Micro and Nanosatellite Systems
  • Manufacturing
  • Electronic Technology
  • Energy Management
  • Transportation
  • Intelligence Systems
Technology Details

Similar Results
NASA short ice-surveying mission in Antarctica
On-demand, Dynamic Reconfigurable Broadcast Technology for Space Laser Communication
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has developed a configurable phase mirror system that can address likely obstacles in space optical communications. Through using miniature adjustable mirrors and programmed phase delays to diffract a single communication beam, numerous diffracted beams can be sent to other satellites in various directions for communication and tracking. The initial laser beams wave profile can be dynamically regulated through a fast Fourier transform (FFT) so that when it reaches its desired destination, it forms an intended illuminated spot at the target satellite. Since all the diffracted beams share the same phase mirror, the antenna gain needed to broadcast these beams does not require a multiplied aperture.
Lightweight, Self-Deployable Helical Antenna
NASA's newly developed antenna is lightweight (at or below 2 grams), low volume (at or below 1.2 cm3), and low stowage thickness (approx. 0.7 mm), all while delivering high performance (at or above 10 dBi gain). The antenna includes a novel design-material combination in a helical coil conformation. The design allows the antenna to compress for stowage (e.g., satellite launch), then self-deploy at the desired time in orbit. NASA's lightweight, self-deployable helical antenna can be integrated into a thin-film solar array (or other large deployable structures). Integrating antenna elements into deployable structures such as power generation arrays allows spacecraft designers to maximize the inherently limited resources (e.g., mass, volume, surface area) available in a small spacecraft. When used as a standalone (i.e., single antenna) setup, the the invention offers moderate advantages in terms of stowage thickness, volume, and mass. However, in applications that require antenna arrays, these advantages become multiplicative, resulting in the system offering the same or higher data rate performance while possessing a significantly reduced form factor. Prototypes of NASA's self-deployable, helical antenna have been fabricated in S-band, X-band, and Ka-band, all of which exhibited high performance. The antenna may find application in SmallSat communications (in deep space and LEO), as well as cases where low mass and stowage volume are valued and high antenna gain is required.
SmallSat Standardized Architecture
SmallSat Standardized Architecture is architecture that is modularized, pressurizable, thermally controlled spacecraft-designed to host ruggedized commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) instrumentation in a terrestrial-like environment on orbit. The architecture takes advantage of a pressurizable volume for both spacecraft and payload systems. The pressurizable volume provides multiple benefits, primarily in thermal design. By maintaining one atmosphere of pressure inside the SmallSat, materials that might otherwise outgas and/or fail and/or cause significant contamination issues, are no longer a concern. This also means that certain vibration-absorbing materials/designs used in COTS hardware can be used on orbit. Additionally, printed circuit boards do not have to be redesigned for thermal requirements, plus conformal coating and contamination bake-outs are no longer required. The SmallSat architecture is designed to take advantage of the United States Air Force (USAF) Rideshare Program and the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Secondary Payload Adaptor (ESPA) ring. The ESPA ring comes in two sizes: standard and Grande. The architecture has two main configurations, one designed for the ESPA Grande, and the other for the standard ESPA ring. The ESPA Grande version is a hockey-puck-shaped spacecraft bus measuring approximately 40 inches in diameter and 20 inches in height. This version takes full advantage of the ESPA Grandes 300-kilogram capability per attachment point.
Spacecube in pieces.
SmallSat Common Electronics Board (SCEB) Complement Board Design: Memory Card
The innovation is a miniaturized memory board that will have up to 96 GB of NAND Flash memory along with either a radiation tolerant FPGA or a set of three commercial FPGAs. The memory board is designed to interface with the standard subsystems of Goddards Modular SmallSat Architecture (GMSA). While previous memory cards are larger, this one is designed to fit within a 1U form factor.
Multi-colored Lasers
Optical Tunable-Based Transmitter for Multiple High-Frequency Bands
NASA Glenn's researchers have developed a means of transporting multiple radio frequency carriers through a common optical beam. In contrast to RF infrastructure systems alone, this type of hybrid RF/optical system can provide a very high data-capacity signal communication and significantly reduce power, volume, and complexity. Based on an optical wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) technique, in which optical wavelengths are generated by a tunable diode laser (TDL), the system enables multiple microwave bands to be combined and transmitted all in one unit. The WDM technique uses a different optical wavelength to carry each separate and independent high-frequency microwave band (e.g., L, C, X, Ku, Ka, Q, or higher bands). Since each RF carrier operates at a different optical wavelength, the tunable diode laser can, with the use of an electronic tunable laser controller unit, adjust the spacing wavelength and thereby minimize any crosstalk effect. Glenn's novel design features a tunable laser, configured to generate multiple optical wavelengths, along with an optical transmitter. The optical transmitter modulates each of the optical wavelengths with a corresponding RF band and then encodes each of the modulated optical wavelengths onto a single laser beam. In this way, the system can transmit multiple radio frequency bands using a single laser beam. Glenn's groundbreaking concept can greatly improve the system flexibility and scalability - not to mention the cost of - both ground and space communications.
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