Nanosatellite Probes in Interplanetary Space: An Augmented Cassini Mission
AbstractThe exploration of interplanetary space is one of the most challenging and costly ventures in human history. The relatively low amount of information on other sites beyond Earth is largely due to the rarity of effective trajectories as well as the high levels of risk and complexity inherent in innovative space exploration. One solution to this lack of information is the use of deployable satellite probes to help augment the main mission and its instrumentation. This “Mother- Daughter” architecture allows for the low-cost exploration of hazardous sites and numerous points of interest without compromising the primary mission. While the end goal is the use of nanosatellites on future interplanetary missions, this thesis focuses on an existing interplanetary mission, Cassini. The aim to demonstrate the scientific viability of this “Mother-Daughter” architecture can be achieved by locating numerous unexplored sites that could have been surveyed with a nanosatellite probe onboard Cassini. Each of these potential sites can be expanded into a unique science mission of its own, and in many cases the trajectories can be selected and optimized to better suit the practical design of a nanosatellite in the various interplanetary environments.