Applications And Potentials Of Intelligent Swarms For Magnetospheric Studies



Earth's magnetosphere is vital for today's technologically dependent society. To date, numerous design studies have been conducted and over a dozen science missions have own to study the magnetosphere.

However, a majority of these solutions relied on large monolithic satellites, which limited the spatial resolution of these investigations, as did the technological limitations of the past. To counter these limitations, we propose the use of a satellite swarm carrying numerous and distributed payloads for magnetospheric measurements.

Our mission is named APIS (Applications and Potentials of Intelligent Swarms), which aims to characterize fundamental plasma processes in the Earth's magnetosphere and measure the effect of the solar wind on our magnetosphere. We propose a swarm of 40 CubeSats in two highly-elliptical orbits around the Earth, which perform radio tomography in the magnetotail at 8-12 Earth Radii (RE) downstream, and the subsolar magnetosphere at 8-12RE upstream. In addition, in-situ measurements of the magnetic and electric fields, plasma density will be performed by on-board instruments.

In this article, we present an outline of previous missions and designs for magnetospheric studies, along with the science drivers and motivation for the APIS mission. Furthermore, preliminary design results are included to show the feasibility of such a mission. The science requirements drive the APIS mission design, the mission operation and the system requirements. In addition to the various science payloads, critical subsystems of the satellites are investigated e.g., navigation, communication, processing and power systems.

We summarize our findings, along with the potential next steps to strengthen our design study.

Raj Thilak Rajan, Shoshana Ben-Maor, Shaziana Kaderali, Calum Turner, Mohammed Milhim, Catrina Melograna, Dawn Haken, Gary Paul, Vedant, Sreekumar V, Johannes Weppler, Yosephine Gumulya, Riccardo Bunt, Asia Bulgarini, Maurice Marnat, Kadri Bussov, Frederick Pringle, Jusha Ma, Rushanka Amrutkar, Miguel Coto, Jiang He, Zijian Shi, Shahd Hayder, Dina Saad Fayez Jaber, Junchao Zuo, Mohammad Alsukour, Cecile Renaud, Matthew Christie, Neta Engad, Yu Lian, Jie Wen, Ruth McAvinia, Andrew Simon-Butler, Anh Nguyen, Jacob Cohen

Comments: Accepted in Acta Astronautica
Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Systems and Control (eess.SY)
Cite as: arXiv:2107.01601 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:2107.01601v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)
Submission history
From: Raj Thilak Rajan
[v1] Sun, 4 Jul 2021 12:19:40 UTC (7,263 KB)

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