Mothercraft-cubesat radio measurement for phobos survey

Hongru Chen, Nicolas Rambaux, Valery Lainey, Daniel Hestroffer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Citation (Scopus)


The objective of this work is to investigate the application of radio link between the mothercraft and a CubeSat to the geodesy of Phobos. The origin of Martian moons (i.e. Phobos and Deimos) is still unknown. There are possibilities that they are ejected from Mars after an impact, or they are captured C-type asteroid. The knowledge of Phobos interior structure (e.g. homogeneous, porous, or fractured) will lead to better understanding towards its formation as well as the early solar system. The mothercraft and the CubeSat are flown in a safe high quasisatellite orbit (QSO) and a sustaining low QSO, respectively. Besides the Doppler measurement noise (0.1 mm/s), the ephemeris error of Phobos at least 200 m is found to be very disturbing for Phobos proximity operations. Nevertheless, the relative motion between the high QSO and the low three-dimensional QSO are resistant enough to reveal C20, C22, and to an accuracy of 0.3%, 1%, and 0.6% after one week. Such an accuracy can effectively constrain the moment of inertia as well as the interior structure of the target. The inter-sat radiometric measurement can also support the orbit determination of spacecraft with an accuracy of 240 m and 5 cm/s with respect to Phobos.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication5th IAA Conference on UNIVERSITY SATELLITE MISSIONS AND CUBESAT WORKSHOP, 2020
EditorsFilippo Graziani
PublisherUnivelt Inc.
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9780877036715
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes
Event5th IAA Conference on University Satellite Missions and Cubesat Workshop, 2020 - Rome, Italy
Duration: Jan 28 2020Jan 31 2020

Publication series

NameAdvances in the Astronautical Sciences
ISSN (Print)0065-3438


Conference5th IAA Conference on University Satellite Missions and Cubesat Workshop, 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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