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FemtoSats for Exploring Permanently Shadowed Regions on the Moon

Status Report From: arXiv.org e-Print archive
Posted: Thursday, December 17, 2020

Alvaro Diaz-Flores, José Fernández, Leonard Vance, Himangshu Kalita, Jekan Thangavelautham

The recent, rapid advancement in space exploration is thanks to the accelerated miniaturization of electronics components on a spacecraft that is reducing the mass, volume and cost of satellites. Yet, access to space remains a distant dream as there is growing complexity in what is required of satellites and increasing space traffic. Interplanetary exploration is even harder and has limited possibilities for low cost mission. All of these factors make even CubeSats, the entry-level standard too expensive for most and therefore a better way needs to be found. The proposed solution in this report is a low-mass, low-cost, disposable solution that exploits the latest advances in electronics and is relatively easy to integrate: FemtoSats. FemtoSats are sub-100-gram spacecraft. The FemtoSat concept is based on launching a swarm where the main tasks are divided between the members of the swarm. This means that if one fails the swarm can take its place and therefore substitute it without risking the whole mission. In this paper we explore the utility of FemtoSats to perform first exploration and mapping of a Lunar PSR. This concept was recognized as finalist for the NASA BIG Competition in 2020. This is an example of a high-risk, high-reward mission where losing one FemtoSat does not mean the mission is in danger as it happens with regular satellite missions.

Comments: 10 pages, 8 figures, accepted to IEEE Aerospace Conference 2021

Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Robotics (cs.RO)

Cite as: arXiv:2012.08651 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:2012.08651v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)

Submission history

From: Jekan Thangavelautham 

[v1] Tue, 15 Dec 2020 22:28:21 UTC (739 KB)

https://arxiv.org/abs/2012.08651

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