Special satellites are currently being developed for the purpose of observing the Earth from orbit. Typical areas of application are weather reconnaissance, environmental observa- tion, mapping and geology. As a European network for analytical and forecasting services in the areas of emergency management, land observation and ocean monitoring, the GMES (Global Mo- nitoring for Environment and Security) initiative was established by the European Commission and the European Space Agency.
The services of GMES are intended to provide support for crisis management, for example in the event of environmental disasters, and to simplify land surveying. Observation data from space are expected to play a key role.
In close collaboration with OHB-System AG, the Steinbeis Research Center for Optimization, Control and Adjustment Control has developed mathematical software designed specifi cally for the optimization of satellite resource management systems. The focus is on orbit parameters of each satellite in a constellation being optimized for various target areas. This includes taking into consideration different observation areas for different types of sensor, communication with earth stations, the requirements of various target areas and system response times. Additionally, the operating schedules of the satellites are automatically optimized mathematically for each orbit in terms of priorities of target areas, various observation modes, time delays between the taking of images and earth station contact, the po- sition of earth stations and of several activation and deactivation points. Here, factors such as the limited storage space for images, the position of the sun, limited battery power and restrictions on reactivation are taken into consideration.
As yet, there has been no commercially-produced product availa- ble that has even come close to being suitable for use for the above tasks for the automatic optimization of satellite constel- lations and operating schedules. There is only one such product in existence, from the USA. However, by comparison with these satellite tools, it has key disadvantages. With this new software, it is possible for the fi rst time to determine the maximum ob- servable surface accurately and automatically. Previously, it had frequently taken weeks or months to fi nd acceptable solutions.
Prof. Dr. Christof Büskens
Steinbeis Research Center Optimization, Control and Adjustment Control, Grasberg