DISCOVERER has the following concrete and measurable objectives:
In order to consolidate a baseline of feasibility, DISCOVERER will:
- identify and develop materials which significantly reduce the drag on VLEO platforms and validate them in the VLEO environment raising the technology to TRL5
- demonstrate the feasibility of atmosphere-breathing electric propulsion for drag compensation in a representative laboratory environment to enable indefinite flight in VLEO, raising the intake to TRL5 and thruster to TRL4
- design and test active aerodynamic satellite attitude and orbit control methods exploiting the available aerodynamic effects raising these concepts to TRL5
To place the research and the technological breakthroughs in their real-world context and have mapped out a clear path to future exploitation, thereby benefiting programmes for maritime surveillance, intelligence and security, land management, precision agriculture and food security as well as disaster monitoring.
Specifically we aim to:
- highlight the significant benefits of VLEO operation altitudes for different EO domains, such as optical and radar systems, by reviewing the existing literature
- develop EO platform systems models and use them to explore the design space of VLEO platform concepts, assess the impact of the sought technology breakthroughs and develop the knowledge to allow designers to assess the performance, cost and benefits of these concepts
- assess the economic impact of the identified promising technological concepts utilising a comprehensive understanding of the current EO market and future market trends; identify exploitation models for VLEO concepts for EO and identify the commercially viable concepts
- develop an implementation and technology development roadmaps for VLEO EO platforms, which clearly identify the technology risks and gaps that need addressing in the short-term
An Impact Board comprising a mix of junior and senior members of DISCOVERER from academia and industry (DEIMOS, GS) is responsible for designing a structured communication plan for dissemination and the exploitation of program results. Together with the project management office it oversees the comprehensive internal and external dissemination of project results and knowledge.