Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


College of Engineering


Pauline Faure

Advisor Department

Aerospace Engineering

Advisor College

College of Engineering


Spacecraft operating on the Martian surface have used relay satellites as a means of improving communication capabilities, mainly in terms of bandwidth and availability. However, the spacecraft used to achieve this have been large spacecraft (1000s of kilograms) and were not designed with relay capability as the design priority. This thesis explores the possibility of using a CubeSat-based constellation as a communications network for spacecraft operating on the Martian surface. Brute-force techniques are employed to explore the design space of possible constellations. An analysis of constellation configurations that provide complete, continuous coverage of the Martian surface is presented. The stability of these constellations are analyzed, and recommendations are made for stable configurations and the orbital maintenance thereof. Link budget analysis is used to determine the communications capability of each constellation, and recommendations are made for sizing each communication element. The results of these three analyses are synthesized to create an architecture generation tool. This tool is used to identify mission architectures that suit a variety of mission requirements, and these architectures are presented. The primary recommended architecture utilizes 18 CubeSats in three orbital planes with six additional larger relay satellites to provide an average of over one terabit/sol downlink and 100 kbps uplink capability.