Multi-Objective Optimization of an Intelligent Soil-Moisture-Monitoring Constellation

Posted on by Stephen Gee

In early satellite mission design, requirements are not yet fixed, cost is sometimes negotiable, and designs are relatively unconstrained. During this period of design freedom, multi-objective optimization can provide a useful lens into the design space by showing theoretical performance limits and illuminating design tradeoffs. This work optimizes a radar constellation for a potential soil moisture mission. Several different optimization cases with different variables are considered and contrasted. The optimization of the instrument and constellation parameters is considered jointly and separately to better understand the effect of coupling on the optimization performance. A science-driven optimization based on soil moisture retrieval error is compared with a performance-metric-driven optimization. Pareto analysis and association rule mining are performed on the generated designs to provide insight into driving features. Design recommendations are made for several cost caps. Results show that optimization that considers the instrument and constellation design together find superior revisit metrics than treating instrument and constellation separately. The use of the science value metric as an optimization objective shows that while cost may always be increased to improve instrument and constellation performance, the difference in science value may be negligible. These findings can inform tradespace exploration studies for similar problems.

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