Experimental Ground Station
Low-cost ground stations for the operation of small satellite projects can be considered as a contribution to reduce overall costs. In the last few years some effort have been made all over the world to analyze various aspects of low-cost ground stations (e.g. ). The development of the Experimental Ground Station (EGS) for the small satellite project BIRD is a contribution to these efforts. BIRD is an earth observing satellite (launch is planned for 09/2001) with visible and infra-red channels.
Figure 1: Comparison of data distribution methods
The rapid development of new technologies in the area of information and communication, together with falling prices, suggest to make extensive use of "commercial of-the-shelf" (COTS) products for satellite ground station applications. This is also the case for the EGS, for which such components are extensively used e.g. for satellite tracking and data reception.
Data from earth observing satellites is of special interest for users for various analysis. The traditional distribution method for these data, satellite – receiving station – data processing center – data distributor – user, is not cheap and takes a long time until it reaches the end-user. A new approach is to establish a direct connection between the satellite and the user with a suitable low-cost station. Figure1 shows a comparison between these two methods schematically.