Skip to main content
GEOScan: A GEOScience Facility From Space
AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites
  • Lars Dyrud, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
  • Jonathan Fentzke, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
  • Gary Bust, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
  • Bob Erlandson, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
  • Brian Bauer, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
  • Aaron Rogers, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
  • Warren Wiscombe, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Shawn Murphy, Charles Stark Draper Laboratory
  • Rebecca Bishop, The Aerospace Corporation
  • Om Gupta, Iridium Communications Inc.
  • Brian Gunter, Technical Univ. Delft
  • Kerri Cahoy, MIT
  • Chad Fish, Space Dynamics Laboratory
Technical Session IV: Global Missions
GEOScan, proposed as a globally networked orbiting facility utilizing Iridium NEXT’s 66-satellite constellation, will provide revolutionary, massively dense global geoscience observations and targets questions scientists have not been able to answer, and will not answer, until simultaneous global measurements are made. GEOScan dramatically lowers the logistical and cost barriers for transmitting “big data” from 66 satellites by using Iridium’s communications platform and commercial-off-the-shelf components. Iridium’s Hosted Payload Program facilitates the effort, but it could be executed using any small-sat constellation. Each GEOScan sensor suite consists of 6 instruments: a Radiometer to measure Earth’s total outgoing radiation; a GPS Compact Total Electron Content Sensor to image Earth’s plasma environment and gravity field; a MicroCam Multispectral Imager to provide the first uniform, instantaneous image of Earth and measure global cloud cover, vegetation, land use, and bright aurora; a Radiation Belt Mapping System (dosimeter) to measure energetic electron and proton distributions; a Compact Earth Observing Spectrometer to measure aerosol-atmospheric composition and vegetation; and MEMS Accelerometers to deduce non-conservative forces aiding gravity and neutral drag studies. These instruments, employed in a constellation, can provide major breakthroughs in Earth and geospace science, as well as offering low-cost space situational awareness, surveillance, and reconnaissance opportunities. As a means of risk reduction and technology maturation, GEOScan will also leverage a pathfinder JHU/APL effort to develop several enabling technologies and flight-qualify them using a pair of nanosatellites to be launched in mid-2013.
Citation Information
Lars Dyrud, Jonathan Fentzke, Gary Bust, Bob Erlandson, et al.. "GEOScan: A GEOScience Facility From Space" (2012)
Available at: