Flexible Scheduling for an Agile Earth-Observing Satelllite / 4379
Earth observation from space allows us to better understand natural phenomenas such as marine currents, to prevent or follow natural disasters, to follow climate evolution and many other things. To achieve that, there are a great number of artificial satellites orbiting Earth, equipped with high-resolution optical instruments and communicating with a network of ground stations. A satellite is said to be agile when it is able to move quickly around its gravity center along its three axes while moving along its orbit, thanks to gyroscopic actuators. It is equipped with a body-mounted optical instrument. To observe a ground area with the instrument, the satellite must be pointed to it. In practice, users submit observation requests to a mission center, which builds activity plans which are sent to the satellites. These plans contain several types of actions such as orbital maneuvers, acquisition realisations and acquisition downloads towards ground stations. Many techniques are used to synthesize such activity plans. Until now, plans are computed offline on the ground and converted into telecommands that the satellite executes strictly, without any flexibility. However, the satellite evolves in a dynamic environment. Unexpected events occur, such as meteorological changes or new urgent observation requests, that the system must handle. Moreover, resource consumption is not always well known. Until now, to ensure that plans will be executable on board with these uncertainties, they are built with worst-case hypothesis on resources consumption. The objective of this work is to give more autonomy to the satellite without compromising the predictability that is needed for some activities. On the ground, we have high computing power and high uncertainty, while on board we have very low computing power and low uncertainty. The main idea is to share decision-making between ground and board to take advantage of the high computing power on the ground and of the low uncertainty on board. First we apply this idea to download scheduling which consists in scheduling file downloads during ground station visibility windows. Second, we apply this idea to observation planning.