Utilization and Support Phase
By now, the system has been integrated, and several tests have been performed on it. If required, certain changes are made after the tests, and now the system is ready to be launched. This phase starts with the launch and covers the mission life of the satellite. The satellite has to perform all the functions for which it has been designed. To achieve this, one requires regular communication with the satellite so that one can uplink the data as well as receive the downlink.
It is one of the most vital elements in this phase. Your satellite might be fully functional and all working in space but it is due to the ground station that we get to know this. All the communication with the satellite is done by transmitting and receiving radio frequency through a ground station. Thus, a ground station which had been set up earlier has to be maintained properly so that the communication with the satellite is not hindered.
Payload Utilization: Processing Payload Related Data
One of the most important parts of a satellite’s mission is the payload. It is the actual purpose of the satellite. The utilization of payload happens now. The satellite starts performing its payload activities. The payload related data from the satellite needs to be downlinked to the Earth so that some further processing, if needed, can be done at the ground to get some meaningful results. For eg., if the payload of a satellite is to measure the total electron count in the ionosphere, the processing is done on the ground.
Note that the plan for the data processing and storage needs to be charted out beforehand during the development phase, and in this phase, they are simply carried out.
The radio wave transmitted from the ground station on earth to the satellite in space is called uplink of signals. We might have to give certain commands to the satellite orbiting in space to alter its functioning or to proceed with some further step of its payload, this is called telecommand. This is all done through the uplink of the signals from the ground station. For example a ‘kill’ or ‘reset’ telecommand is sent to the satellite which shuts down its functioning and resets the satellite respectively. If a satellite’s mission is to observe various parts of space, we would need to uplink relevant parameters so that the satellite can reorient itself and so that it can continue to complete the mission.
Health Monitoring and Analysis of Components
Satellites are complex systems and need to be closely monitored by frequently tracking and receiving data of several onboard parameters. This helps in detecting any anomalies or possible failures in the system. The health monitoring data is downlinked from the satellite and received on the ground station. It is called telemetry. Using this data, one gets to know if the satellite is functioning properly or not. The diagnosis of failure of a component is done through this data. Thus, we can investigate such faults and properly document them for future references.
If you are done reading this page, you can go back to Starting a Student Satellite Project.