Dual Satellite Coverage using Particle Swarm Optimization

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Virginia Tech

A dual satellite system in a Low Earth Orbit, LEO, would be beneficial to study the electromagnetic occurrences in the magnetosphere and their contributions to the development of the aurora events in the Earth's lower atmosphere. An orbit configuration is sought that would increase the total time that both satellites are inside the auroral oval. Some additional objectives include minimizing the total fuel cost and the average angle between the satellites' radius vectors. This orbit configuration is developed using a series of instantaneous burns applied at each satellite's perigee. An analysis of the optimal solutions generated by a Particle Swarm Optimization method is completed using a cost function with different weights for the time, fuel, and angle terms. Three different scenarios are presented: a single burn case, a double burn case, and a four burn case. The results are calculated using two different orbital mechanics models: an unperturbed two-body simulation and a two-body simulation with added Earth's equatorial bulge effects. It is shown that the added perturbation reduces the total event time in the optimal solutions generated. Specific weights for the cost function are recommended for further studies.

particle swarm optimization, space weather, aurora borealis, orbital mechanics, satellite coverage