Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Robert A. Marshall

Second Advisor

Scott Palo

Third Advisor

Daniel Kubitschek

Abstract

The goal of this work is to assess the feasibility of using a two-CubeSat constellation to make continuous solar science measurements from low Earth orbit. There is a growing interest in using CubeSats for scientific missions since they are relatively inexpensive, can be manufactured quickly, and they have a standard form factor. CubeSats have increased access to space, and there is a growing interest in the solar science community to be able to conduct remote sensing solar science missions from a CubeSat platform. By using a constellation separated by differential drag, this mission concept enables continuous measurements of the sun, allowing scientists to have a complete record despite the spacecraft's eclipse periods. In this thesis, I have developed a two-body propagator that takes various inputs for starting altitude, density model, attitude, and spacecraft configuration to enable investigation over a large trade space. Following the model development, I ran a series of simulations to explore the feasibility of this concept, finding that there are many combinations of parameters that produce a feasible mission design. I show that the model is validated by altitude decay data from the MinXSS CubeSat, I will discuss areas of the design that require further study, and I explore the logical next steps for future development of this concept.

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