Date of Award

12-2014

Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering

Department

Aerospace Engineering

Advisor

Kira J. Abercromby, Ph.D.

Abstract

As satellites become smaller, cheaper, and quicker to manufacture, constellation systems will be an increasingly attractive means of meeting mission objectives. Optimizing satellite constellation geometries is therefore a topic of considerable interest. As constellation systems become more achievable, providing coverage to specific regions of the Earth will become more common place. Small countries or companies that are currently unable to afford large and expensive constellation systems will now, or in the near future, be able to afford their own constellation systems to meet their individual requirements for small coverage regions.

The focus of this thesis was to optimize constellation geometries for small coverage regions with the constellation design limited between 1-6 satellites in a Walker-delta configuration, at an altitude of 200-1500km, and to provide remote sensing coverage with a minimum ground elevation angle of 60 degrees. Few Pareto-frontiers have been developed and analyzed to show the tradeoffs among various performance metrics, especially for this type of constellation system. The performance metrics focus on geometric coverage and include revisit time, daily visibility time, constellation altitude, ground elevation angle, and the number of satellites. The objective space containing these performance metrics were characterized for 5 different regions at latitudes of 0, 22.5, 45, 67.5, and 90 degrees. In addition, the effect of minimum ground elevation angle was studied on the achievable performance of this type of constellation system. Finally, the traditional Walker-delta pattern constraint was relaxed to allow for asymmetrical designs. These designs were compared to see how the Walker-delta pattern performs compared to a more relaxed design space.

The goal of this thesis was to provide both a framework as well as obtain and analyze Pareto-frontiers for constellation performance relating to small regional coverage LEO constellation systems. This work provided an in-depth analysis of the trends in both the design and objective space of the obtained Pareto-frontiers. A variation on the εNSGA-II algorithm was utilized along with a MATLAB/STK interface to produce these Pareto-frontiers. The εNSGA-II algorithm is an evolutionary algorithm that was developed by Kalyanmoy Deb to solve complex multi-objective optimization problems.

The algorithm used in this study proved to be very efficient at obtaining various Pareto-frontiers. This study was also successful in characterizing the design and solution space surrounding small LEO remote sensing constellation systems providing small regional coverage.