Hyperspectral observations of vegetation phenology at hourly timescales with a constellation of small satellites

Anton B. Ivanov, Harold Clenet, Michael Jehle, Luzius Kronig, Damien Bouffard, Yosef Akhtman, Nicolas Ackermann, Federico Belloni

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


This study considers an idea to create a constellation of small Satellites Observing Lake and Vegetation Environments (SOLVE) to enable hourly revisit times, to complement observations made by larger satellites. Each spacecraft will carry a miniaturized version of a hyperspectral imaging spectrometer. The aim of the study is to consider several options for the mission capabilities, establish a preliminary schedule and the total cost of the mission. Hyperspectral remote sensing brings in a new dimension to remote sensing observations of vegetation and water processes on Earth. Applications can vary from a purely scientific exercise to discover new phenomena, to precision farming and disaster relief management. A number of large satellites, carrying imaging spectrometers, will be launched in the next decade. However, they will only be able to look at weekly scales, revisiting target areas once or twice a week. We expect that these data will be heavily exploited by the science community at first. The focus of the mission will be to insert processed products into existing e-farming solutions and address other societal challenges. In this work, we have defined a parameter space of science requirements, which will complement existing and future hyperspectral missions currently in development. We considered a baseline of 6 satellites placed into 3 orbital planes, with 2 (optionally more) satellites per plane. A number of small satellites platforms have been identified from a fast growing market of providers. The SOLVE constellation will complement existing and future hyperspectral missions currently under development. Measurements will be taken on hourly timescales, providing a new look on the phenology of plants. Hyperspectral missions produce a lot of data and our study has considered an innovative instrument concept to utilize latest techniques in compressive sensing. One of the questions we are asking is whether large-scale fields can be monitored efficiently, while increasing productivity. We will also address complementarity between the SOLVE constellation and High Altitude Platforms (HAP) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) platforms. The SOLVE mission study is funded by the the Swiss Space Office of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation of the Swiss Confederation (SERI/SSO) in the framework of "Call for ideas for small missions" 2015 with support from the Swiss Space Center.

Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes
Event67th International Astronautical Congress, IAC 2016 - Guadalajara, Mexico
Duration: 26 Sep 201630 Sep 2016


  • Earth Observation
  • Hyperspectral
  • Small satellites


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