• Author: Novello Andrea
  • Description:

    Today the industrial and academic interest in space and space-related
    activities is rapidly growing. A cost-effective access to space would open
    a wide range of new opportunities and markets, especially for SMEs (Small
    Medium Enterprise) and Universities, which otherwise cannot access space
    due to high cost. Lower costs would allow to test in field (in space)
    theories and ideas which would otherwise be unaffordable to do.
    Unfortunately, the cost-effective access to space, which is also envisaged
    by ESA, is still many years ahead. There is still a lack of devices,
    circuits, systems suited to develop satellites, ground stations and related
    services at costs compatible with the budget of academic institutions and
    SMEs. As soon as the development time and cost of small satellites will
    fall below a certain threshold (e.g. 100,000 to 500,000 euros), appropriate
    business models will likely develop to ensure a cost effective and
    pervasive access to space, and related infrastructures and services.
    The most effective way to reduce the cost of a nano or micro-satellite
    mission is to reduce as much as possible design and non-recurrent
    fabrication costs, which usually account for more than 90% of the overall
    budget. Reducing them can be achieved by sharing the design among a large
    number of missions.
    The first step in this direction was the development of a small low cost
    nano satellite, which started in the year 2004: the name of this project
    was PiCPoT (Piccolo Cubo del Politecnico di
    Torino) designed by some departments of Polytechnic University of Turin,
    in particular the Electronics and the Aerospace departments.
    The main goal of the project was to evaluate the feasibility of using COTS
    (Commercial-Off-The-Shelf) components in a space project in order to
    greatly reduce costs; COTS components are indeed easily available and low
    cost, but not much reliable for space applications.
    The internal subsystems modularity was also a key goal to allow a further
    cost reduction for future missions.
    Starting from the PiCPoT experience, in 2006 a new project called AraMiS
    which is the Italian acronym for Modular Architecture for Satellites was
    In this diagram is shown ARAMIS Project, in its subparts:
    1. OUTER Tiles : tiles regularly placed on the outer surface of the
    satellite, with a double function: mechanical and functional;
    2. INNER Tiles : tiles internal to satellite, mission dependent.
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    Class – ARAMIS Project
    Design reuse is an efficient way to reduce design and non-recurrent
    fabrication costs.
    AraMiS is a family of satellites with modular architecture, based on a
    small number of flexible and powerful modules which can be reused as much
    as possible in different missions. Using the same module more times
    obviously allows to share design, qualification and testing costs and to
    reduce the time-to-launch. These modules are called “Tiles”.
    The first step in the AraMiS project was to identify the most common and
    critical subsystems, that are:
    1. mechanical subsystem;
    2. power management subsystem;
    3. telecommunication subsystem;
    4. on-board processing subsystem;
    5. payload support;
    6. ground segment.
    The basic idea was to design an architecture made of one or more modular
    intelligent tiles. Most of them placed on the outer surface of the
    satellite for a double function: mechanical and functional. The inner part
    of the satellite is mostly left empty (except for the on board processor
    and payload support tile), to be filled by the user-defined payload, which
    is the only part to be designed and manufactured ad-hoc for each mission.
    Each tile has been designed, manufactured and tested in relatively large
    An increased design effort has been done, to compensate for the lower
    reliability of COTS devices, therefore achieving a reasonable system
    reliability at a reduced cost.
    Class – OUTER Tiles
    Outer tiles are tiles placed on the external surface of satellite, and can
    be of two types: Power Management Tile and Telecommunication Tile.
    Class – INNER Tiles
    Inner tiles can be of many types depending on the mission. One of the
    developed tile is the Payload support.
    Class – Power Management Tile
    Power management, composed mostly of a solar panel, a rechargeable battery
    to store energy, a battery charger, a microcontroller-based Housekeeping
    module to keep track of voltages, currents and temperatures inside the tile
    and an active magnetic and/or inertial asset control for AOCS
    An appropriate number of such tiles (depending on power requirements of the
    mission) are placed around a cubic or prismatic shape (or displaced after
    satellite release) and represent a pre-designed and pre-assembled modular
    power management subsystem.
    Class – Telecommunication Tile
    Telecommunication, composed mostly of a microcontroller-based programmable
    transceiver, a 437MHz or 2.4GHz modem, a power amplifier (for transmission)
    and low-noise amplifiers (for reception), an antenna system. At least one
    such tile is placed as one of the faces of the satellite, preferably
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    pointing to ground, and takes care of reliable data and command exchange
    to/from ground.
    In this tile is also placed the On-board processor: takes care for all data
    handling for Housekeeping, and interfaces to the user-defined payload. CPU
    power and memory are available for the user, so that simple payloads may
    use it instead of having their own processor.
    Class – Payload support
    Mechanical and interfaces for Payload.

  • Year: 2012
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