Space Engineering

PentaS: Smart Software for Satellite-based Sensor Service

PentaS is part of the coordinated project HumSAT 2.0 that, based on the evaluation of the current HumSAT system with one satellite in orbit, will improve considerably its performance. HumSAT 2.0 aims to deploy a constellation of satellites with an intelligent control service that allows for capture and transmission of data generated by a net of world wide distributed sensors and ground stations, especially for sensors to monitor the environment at remote locations in areas without conventional communications infrastructure.  To achieve this goal, software plays a fundamental role, because physically unreachable hardware embedded in small satellites is impossible to be maintained, the sensors and ground terminals must comply with end-user requirements and the ground stations are distributed over the world.

Reaching the scope of the main objective largely depends on the ability of information transmission between the sensors and the satellites and from these to the ground stations taking into account the limitations of the communication protocols and the options for configuration of the embedded system within the satellites.  This requires an integrated software structure that covers different levels and aspects of technology.  Moreover, there exists the needs to provide a deliberative, rational, and autonomous system (hence, intelligent or smart) that permits adapting the performance to end-user requirements with an optimal use of the available bandwidth.

PentaS includes the support for software development of the on-board software based on the experience acquired during the design and implementation of the operating systems of the pico-satellites XaTcobeo and HumSAT demonstrator, the support for the control of the communication between the sensors and the satellites, as well as the support for the transmission of data and telemetry between satellites and ground stations.  Furthermore, automatic decision and planning software for the configuration of the overall system regarding its autonomous actions will be included in order to offer a transparent, efficient and adaptable service environment to the final user.

Given the difficulty of testing all possible subsystems in their final operational environment and in order to investigate alternative solutions, the construction of a software simulator that allows the system to be placed in situations similar to those before and after its launch is addressed. This simulation environment also serves for validation and, to some extent, verification purposes of the proposed and eventually implemented software system.

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