Optimizing coverage and revisit time in sparse military satellite constellations a comparison of traditional approaches and genetic algorithms
Parish, Jason A.
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Sparse military satellite constellations were designed using two methods: a traditional approach and a genetic algorithm. One of the traditional constellation designs was the Discoverer II space based radar. Discoverer II was an 8 plane, 24 satellite, Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Walker constellation designed to provide high-range resolution ground moving target indication (HRR-GMTI), synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imaging and high resolution digital terrain mapping. The traditional method designed 9-ball, 12-ball, 18-ball, and 24- ball Walker constellations. The genetic algorithm created constellations by deriving a phenotype from a triploid genotype encoding of orbital elements. The performance of both design methods were compared using a computer simulation. The fitness of each constellation was calculated using maximum gap time, maximum revisit time, and percent coverage. The goal was to determine if one design method would consistently outperform the other. The genetic algorithm offered a fitness improvement over traditional constellation design methods in all cases except the 24-ball constellation where it demonstrated comparable results. The genetic algorithm improvement over the traditional constellations increased as the number of satellites per constellation decreased. A derived equation related revisit time to the number of ship tracks maintained.
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