Solar radiation pressure enabled femtosatellite based Earth remote sensing

Cao, J. and Clemente, C. and McInnes, C. R. and Soraghan, J. J. (2020) Solar radiation pressure enabled femtosatellite based Earth remote sensing. IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems. ISSN 0018-9251 (

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Recent developments in electronics have pushed miniaturised satellites to the femto-scale, with masses between 10 and 100 g. Although femtosatellites have been proven as a feasible concept, most designs are limited in mission capacity and lifetime due to the lack of environmental protection and onboard propellant. In this paper, a novel concept for femtosatellites for Earth remote sensing is proposed. In particular, a swarm of femtosatellites are used as elements of a sparse array in orbit to receive radar echoes. They also feature active orbit control enabled by solar radiation pressure to extend their lifetime. A simple active orbit control algorithm has been demonstrated. A mission concept based on a Sun-synchronous circular orbit is proposed to maximise the benefit for both Earth remote sensing and active orbit control. A synthetic aperture radar mission has been used to characterise their performance.