Coverage Predictions and Selection Criteria for Satellite Constellations.
ROYAL AIRCRAFT ESTABLISHMENT FARNBOROUGH (ENGLAND)
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To assist in the prediction of the Earth-coverage capabilities of large constellations of satellites, studies have been conducted of patterns based on regular tesselations of a plane surface and of others based on regular polyhedra. This work has identified trends associated with increasing numbers of satellites and degrees of coverage, permitting extrapolation from the known capabilities of smaller satellite constellations. An investigation of selection criteria has emphasized the importance of the minimum inter-satellite distance, which provides a particularly convenient criterion for use in preliminary studies, and this in turn has been used in an examination of some non-uniform orbital patterns, which has suggested an improved method of synthesizing such patterns. Results obtained have been discussed with reference to the requirements of the GPSGlobal Positioning Systems navigation satellite system.