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The Next Era for Earth Observation Spacecraft: An Overview of CogniSAT-6
  • +5
  • David Rijlaarsdam,
  • Tom Hendrix,
  • Pablo T Toledano González,
  • Alberto Velasco-Mata,
  • Léonie Buckley,
  • Juan Puig Miquel,
  • Oriol Aragon Casaled,
  • Aubrey Dunne
David Rijlaarsdam

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
Tom Hendrix
Pablo T Toledano González
Alberto Velasco-Mata
Léonie Buckley
Juan Puig Miquel
Oriol Aragon Casaled
Aubrey Dunne


Earth Observation spacecraft play a pivotal role in various critical applications impacting life on Earth. Historically, these systems have adhered to conventional operational paradigms, namely the "mow-the-lawn" and "bent pipe" approaches. In these paradigms, operational schedules are formulated on the ground and subsequently uploaded to the spacecraft for execution. Execution involves either systematically acquiring vast amounts of data (mow-the-lawn) or targeting specific areas of interest as defined by end users or operators. We aim to depart from these traditional methodologies by integrating onboard Artificial Intelligence, real-time communication, and new observing strategies in one system called CogniSAT-6. These transformative innovations will amplify the amount, speed, and quality of the information yielded by such a system by up to an order of magnitude. Consequently, these advancements are poised to revolutionize conventional Earth Observation systems from static entities into dynamic, intelligent, and interconnected instruments for highly efficient information gathering. This paper provides an overview of the current state of the art in autonomous Earth Observation spacecraft and the application of onboard processing in Earth Observation spacecraft. An overview is given of the CogniSAT-6 mission, its concept of operations, system architecture, and data processing design. Since we believe that the technology presented here will have a significant impact on society, an ethical framework for such systems is presented. Finally, the benefits of the technology and implications for EO systems going forward are discussed.
21 Feb 2024Submitted to TechRxiv
22 Feb 2024Published in TechRxiv