Our Vision

The vision of the DISCOVERER project is a radical redesign of Earth observation (EO) satellites for sustained operation at much lower altitudes than the current state of the art. We want to achieve this by using a combination of new aerodynamic materials, aerodynamic control and atmosphere-breathing electric propulsion for drag-compensation. These next generation satellites would be smaller, less massive and less expensive to launch, but would still achieve the same or even better resolution and data products than today’s platforms.

This in turn would reduce the cost of European programmes for maritime surveillance, intelligence and security, precision agriculture and food security, land management and disaster monitoring, as well as giving Europe a world leading role in the development and exploitation of these technological capabilities.

This vision requires foundational research in spacecraft aerodynamic characterization, in material aerodynamics and atomic oxygen resistance, in electric propulsion and control methods, all tied together in a systems design framework including business models and EO market analysis. DISCOVERER aims to develop the key technologies required to master the engineering challenges of this cutting-edge project.

The long-term next step beyond DISCOVERER would be to fly these technologies together on an EO platform comprehensively demonstrating the viability of these new satellites and their application.

Learn more about the science behind DISCOVERER

A radical redesign of earth observation satellites

Image credits: