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Space communications responsive to events across missions (SCREAM): an investigation of network solutions for transient science space systems




Roberts, Christopher J., author
Bradley, Thomas H., advisor
Sega, Ronald M., committee member
Borky, John M., committee member
Reising, Steven C., committee member

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The National Academies have prioritized the pursuit of new scientific discoveries using diverse and temporally coordinated measurements from multiple ground and space-based observatories. Networked communications can enable such measurements by connecting individual observatories and allowing them to operate as a cohesive and purposefully designed system. Timely data flows across terrestrial and space communications networks are required to observe transient scientific events and processes. Currently, communications to space-based observatories experience large latencies due to manual service reservation and scheduling procedures, intermittent signal coverage, and network capacity constraints. If space communications network latencies could be reduced, new discoveries about dynamic scientific processes could be realized. However, science mission and network planners lack a systematic framework for defining, quantifying and evaluating timely space data flow implementation options for transient scientific observation scenarios involving multiple ground and space-based observatories. This dissertation presents a model-based systems engineering approach to investigate and develop network solutions to meet the needs of transient science space systems. First, a systematic investigation of the current transient science operations of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) space data network and the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory resulted in a formal architectural model for transient science space systems. Two methods individual missions may use to achieve timely network services were defined, quantitatively modeled, and experimentally compared. Next, the architectural model was extended to describe two alternative ways to achieve timely and autonomous space data flows to multiple space-based observatories within the context of a purposefully designed transient science observation scenario. A quantitative multipoint space data flow modeling method based in queueing theory was defined. General system suitability metrics for timeliness, throughput, and capacity were specified to support the evaluation of alternative network data flow implementations. A hypothetical design study was performed to demonstrate the multipoint data flow modeling method and to evaluate alternative data flow implementations using TDRS. The merits of a proposed future TDRS broadcast service to implement multipoint data flows were quantified and compared to expected outcomes using the as-built TDRS network. Then, the architectural model was extended to incorporate commercial network service providers. Quantitative models for Globalstar and Iridium short messaging data services were developed based on publicly available sources. Financial cost was added to the set of system suitability metrics. The hypothetical design study was extended to compare the relative suitability of the as-built TDRS network with the commercial Globalstar and Iridium networks. Finally, results from this research are being applied by NASA missions and network planners. In 2020, Swift implemented the first automated command pipeline, increasing its expected gravitational wave follow-up detection rate by greater than 400%. Current NASA technology initiatives informed by this research will enable future space-based observatories to become interoperable sensing devices connected by a diverse ecosystem of network service providers.


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