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VLEO Wind Measurements



Organisational Unit
Activity Type
16 April 2024

Duration: 12 months


Very Low Earth Orbit (VLEO) satellites are gaining attention for their promising potential. Considering altitudes between 100 and approximately 450 km is becoming increasingly attractive for both commercial and scientific endeavors. Since the proximity of VLEO satellites to Earth may yield mission performance enhancements, keeping size of payloads and platforms reasonably low, while allowing for easier deployment of satellite systems. In this context, the present idea aims at proposing an eccentric VLEO concept able to perform wind and atmospheric measurements. Traditionally, this type of measurements have been performed with powerful and heavy instruments, it is the case of Aeolus and its Instrument ALADIN (via Doppler effect), incurring in high mission cost. A constellation of satellites with perigees targeting VLEO altitudes could achieve the same or even enhance scientific objectives in terms of accuracy and data quality, while reducing the mass and launch cost. The eccentric orbit gives the flexibility to allow for certain orbital period for maintenance operations like recharging the batteries, while scientific products are only obtained in the vicinity of the perigee. With this strategy, the platform design can be relaxed, avoiding some of the known VLEO drawbacks, as high aerodynamic drag requiring frequent compensation and incurring in large propellant budget and adequate sizing of the propulsion system. In fact, the strategy includes the use of tunable thruster (in power/thrust level) to optimize the compensation capacity to the altitude needs and save on.board resources. In addition, the payload size can be as well considerably reduced, for instance a LIDAR for wind measurement could incur in a quadratic reduction with altitude decrease. Furthermore, the activity would entail a task for propulsion testing, in order to support the definition of feasible and efficient mission concept and define an adequate thrust usage tune to the demands on the environment.

Contract number
OSIP Idea Id
Related OSIP Campaign
VLEO - New ideas for the nearest of outer space
Main application area
VLEO Wind Measurements