DISCOVERER envisions a radical redesign of Earth observation platforms for sustained operation at significantly lower altitudes than the current state-of-the-art and overcomes these challenges

DISCOVERER is an Acronym of: Disruptive Technologies for Very Low Earth Orbit Platforms

Partners of DISCOVERER envision a radical redesign of Earth observation platforms for sustained operation at significantly lower altitudes than the current state of the art, using a combination of new aerodynamic materials, aerodynamic control and air-breathing electric propulsion for drag-compensation, for a variety of observation methods with the aim of creating a new platform paradigm. This vision requires foundational research in spacecraft aerodynamic characterization, in material aerodynamics and atomic oxygen resistance, in electric propulsion, and control methods. These activities are by their nature multidisciplinary covering atmospheric science, surface chemistry and material characterization, control engineering, spacecraft design, payload engineering, etc. 

GomSpace takes partnership in the new project alongside 8 other partners.

We want to revolutionize Earth observation by operating satellites at much lower altitudes than usual. Our satellites will be smaller, lighter and cheaper to launch while achieving a better resolution than today’s devices

The potential impact of the breakthroughs the DISCOVERER project is aiming for is paradigm changing, equivalent to the impact the invention of the jet engine had on the aeronautical sector in the 1940s. The proposed development of low drag materials and satellite geometries, along with the development of propulsion that enables sustained continuous flight at much lower velocities, both open up a whole new flight regime for spacecraft. They therefore hold the promise of radically changing the sector.

Few vehicles operate in the altitude range between the highest reconnaissance aircraft at 26 km (highest sustained SR71 flight) and the lowest space platforms at around 450 km, except for relatively short durations or with frequent resupply. Yet, for remote sensing, very low orbits offer considerable advantages over conventional space platforms whilst maintaining global coverage, and without the inherent constraints on aircraft of airspace restrictions and limited range and duration.

A cost reduction of the very low Earth orbit (VLEO)  systems will also contribute to the deployment of fractionated and distributed systems (constellations, swarms and formations). The use of these systems will also increase the coverage capabilities including larger swath and reduced revisit times.

For more information on the project, go to:

Download leaflet on DISCOVERER

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