A team of engineers from Singapore has successfully piloted the world's first ZigBee wireless sensor network (WSN) for satellite communications.
With the weight of payloads being a major constraint in satellite design, constructing a lightweight, low power-consuming, wireless communication system to do away with cabling inside the satellite has always been a challenge for system designers.
The engineering team at the Satellite Research Centre of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore launched VELOX-I, which consists of a nanosatellite weighing 3.5 kg and a piggyback picosatellite weighing 1.5 kg, from the two highest points on campus.
Designed to test the hypothesis that ZigBee, a cheap but powerful land-based wireless system, will perform equally well in space, both miniature satellites were configured with a ZigBee wireless network and equipped with small sensor nodes. These nodes perform functions such as local sensing, distributed computing and data-gathering within the satellite to support intra-satellite communications.
The satellites were found to be able to maintain inter-satellite communications with each other over remarkably long distances.
This experiment marks a breakthrough in aeronautical engineering, having been designed to evaluate the performance of WSNs in space. After conducting Received Signal Strength Indicator tests on the satellites' radio frequency modules, a maximum range of 1 km was found to be achievable for inter-satellite communication in the campus environment. An even longer communication range can be expected in free space, due to the absence of signal attenuation caused by fading and diffraction.
To estimate the range of inter-satellite communication in free space, the team applied a link budget analysis based on the Friis transmission equation, deriving an average theoretical distance of 4.186 km and a maximum of 15.552 km. Published in the special issue of Unmanned Systems, these findings present a compelling case for further studies into inter-satellite communication systems with more complex designs.
The team also found that by replacing internally wired connections with wireless links, a satellite's mass could be reduced by as much as 10%. With the twin pressures of minimising development costs and maximising risk diversification imposing major constraints on satellite design, the production of comprehensive yet lightweight systems could benefit significantly from WSNs.
Although WSNs have been used in a wide range of applications in recent years, their use in space applications has, until now, remained limited. The Singaporean team's data-driven survey has established a sound platform for future formation-flying satellite missions, and seems poised to create subsequent revolutions in space.
About World Scientific Publishing Co.
World Scientific Publishing is a leading independent publisher of books and journals for the scholarly, research and professional communities. The company publishes about 500 books annually and more than 120 journals in various fields. World Scientific collaborates with prestigious organisations like the Nobel Foundation, US National Academies Press, as well as its subsidiary, the Imperial College Press, amongst others, to bring high quality academic and professional content to researchers and academics worldwide. To find out more about World Scientific, please visit www.worldscientific.com.
Jason Lim Chongjin
Senior Marketing/Corporate Communications Executive
Tel: (65) 64665775, Ext. 247
Jason Lim Chongjin | Eurek Alert!
Efficient time synchronization of sensor networks by means of time series analysis
24.01.2017 | Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt
Ultra-precise chip-scale sensor detects unprecedentedly small changes at the nanoscale
18.01.2017 | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...
For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.
According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.01.2017 | Life Sciences
24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine