Flower constellation optimization and implementation
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Satellite constellations provide the infrastructure to implement some of the most important global services of our times both in civilian and military applications, ranging from telecommunications to global positioning, and to observation systems. Flower Constellations constitute a set of satellite constellations characterized by periodic dynamics. They have been introduced while trying to augment the existing design methodologies for satellite constellations. The dynamics of a Flower Constellation identify a set of implicit rotating reference frames on which the satellites follow the same closed-loop relative trajectory. In particular, when one of these rotating reference frames is “Planet Centered, Planet Fixed”, then all the orbits become compatible (or resonant) with the planet; consequently, the projection of the relative path on the planet results in a repeating ground track. The satellite constellations design methodology currently most utilized is the Walker Delta Pattern or, more generally, Walker Constellations. The set of orbital planes and initial spacecraft positions are represented by a set of only three integers and two real parameters rather than by all the orbital elements; Flower Constellations provide a more general framework in which most of the former restrictions are removed, by allowing the use of resonant elliptical orbits. Flower Constellations can represent hundreds of spacecraft with a set of 6 integers and 5 real parameters only and existing constellations can be easily reproduced. How to design a Flower Constellation to satisfy specific mission requirements is an important problem for promoting the acceptance of this novel concept by the space community. Therefore one of the main goals of this work is that of proposing design techniques that can be applied to satisfy practical mission requirements. The results obtained by applying Global optimization techniques, such as Genetic Algorithms, to some relevant navigation and Earth observation space-based systems show that the Flower Constellations not only are as effective asWalker Constellations, but can also be applied to non-traditional constellation problem domains, such as regional coverage and reconnaissance.
Bruccoleri, Christian (2007). Flower constellation optimization and implementation. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from