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Analyze Access Between a Satellite Constellation and an Aircraft

This example shows how model an aircraft trajectory and a Walker-Delta satellite constellation using Aerospace Toolbox, and analyze and visualize the computed access between the aircraft and satellite constellation.

A satelliteScenario object represents a mission scenario consisting of satellites, ground stations, and the interactions between them. Use this object to model satellites and satellite constellations, model ground station networks, perform access analyses between satellites and ground stations, and visualize trajectories and analysis results.

In this example, model a Walker-Delta satellite constellation using the walkerDelta method of the satelliteScenario object. The satelliteScenario object also supports loading previously generated, time-stamped trajectory and attitude data into a scenario as timeseries or timetable objects. The aircraft trajectory is loaded from a MAT-file, and the data is added to the satelliteScenario as a timetable to analyze the interaction between the aircraft and the satellite constellation.

Define Mission Start Date and Duration

Specify a start date and duration for the mission.

mission.StartDate = datetime(2021,1,1,12,0,0);
mission.Duration = hours(2.5);

Load the Aircraft Trajectory

The provided aircraft trajectory begins at a latitude of 39.5 degrees, longitude of -75 degrees, and an altitude of 10000m, ending at a latitude of 45.9 degrees, longitude of -61.2 degrees, and an altitude of 10000m. The flight time is 2.5 hours. The trajectory is sampled every 10 seconds.

aircraft = load("aircraftLLA.mat", "trajectory");

Plot the aircraft trajectory using geoplot.

geoplot(aircraft.trajectory.LLA(:,1), aircraft.trajectory.LLA(:,2), "b-");
geolimits([30 50],[-110 -50]);

Figure contains an axes object with type geoaxes. The geoaxes object contains an object of type line.

Add the Aircraft to a New Satellite Scenario

Create a satelliteScenario object for the mission.

mission.scenario = satelliteScenario(mission.StartDate, ...
    mission.StartDate + mission.Duration, 60);

Launch a Satellite Scenario Viewer to visualize the mission.

mission.viewer = satelliteScenarioViewer(mission.scenario);

Add the aircraft to the scenario. Aircraft trajectories can be represented in a satellite scenario using the Satellite object with a custom trajectory loaded from a timetable or timeseries object. Use the latitude, longitude, and altitude data previously loaded to represent the aircraft trajectory in the scenario. Hide the aircraft trajectory and visualize its ground track.

aircraft.obj = satellite(mission.scenario,aircraft.trajectory, CoordinateFrame="geographic", Name="Aircraft");
aircraft.obj.MarkerColor = "green";

Use the Home button in the Satellite Scenario Viewer to return the viewer to an Earth-centric view.

Add a Walker-Delta Constellation to the Satellite Scenario

Add a Walker-Delta constellation to the scenario. The change in true anomaly for equivalent satellites in neighboring planes is calculated as Phasing*360/totalSatellites. Argument of Latitude defines the starting point for distribution of satellites along the first orbital track.

constellation.Radius = 7200000; % meters
constellation.Inclination = 70; % deg
constellation.TotalSatellites = 12;
constellation.GeometryPlanes = 4;
constellation.Phasing = 1;
constellation.ArgLat = 15; % deg

constellation.obj = walkerDelta(mission.scenario, ...
    constellation.Radius, ...
    constellation.Inclination, ...
    constellation.TotalSatellites, ...
    constellation.GeometryPlanes, ...
    constellation.Phasing, ...
    ArgumentOfLatitude=constellation.ArgLat, ...

Add Sensors to the Constellation

Add a conical sensor to each satellite with a configurable half angle. Enable field of view visualization in the Satellite Scenario Viewer. To assist in visualization, the sensor is mounted 10m from the satellite, in the +z direction.

sensor.HalfAngle = 35; % deg
sensor.Names = constellation.obj.Name + " satellite";
sensor.obj = conicalSensor(constellation.obj, MaxViewAngle=sensor.HalfAngle*2, MountingLocation=[0 0 10], Name=sensor.Names);
sensor.FOV.obj = fieldOfView(sensor.obj);

Configure the Constellation to Point at the Aircraft

Configure all the satellites in the constellation to point at the aircraft.


Determine the Satellite-to-Aircraft Access Intervals

Analyze the access intervals between the satellites in the constellation and the aircraft.

accessAnalysis.obj = access(sensor.obj, aircraft.obj);
accessAnalysis.Intervals = accessIntervals(accessAnalysis.obj);
accessAnalysis.Intervals = sortrows(accessAnalysis.Intervals,"StartTime");
          Source            Target      IntervalNumber         StartTime                EndTime           Duration    StartOrbit    EndOrbit
    __________________    __________    ______________    ____________________    ____________________    ________    __________    ________

    "Sat_4 satellite"     "Aircraft"          1           01-Jan-2021 12:14:00    01-Jan-2021 12:27:00       780          1            1    
    "Sat_9 satellite"     "Aircraft"          1           01-Jan-2021 12:19:00    01-Jan-2021 12:35:00       960          1            1    
    "Sat_6 satellite"     "Aircraft"          1           01-Jan-2021 12:48:00    01-Jan-2021 13:04:00       960          1            1    
    "Sat_8 satellite"     "Aircraft"          1           01-Jan-2021 12:55:00    01-Jan-2021 13:10:00       900          1            1    
    "Sat_5 satellite"     "Aircraft"          1           01-Jan-2021 13:23:00    01-Jan-2021 13:39:00       960          1            1    
    "Sat_7 satellite"     "Aircraft"          1           01-Jan-2021 13:32:00    01-Jan-2021 13:46:00       840          1            2    
    "Sat_4 satellite"     "Aircraft"          2           01-Jan-2021 13:57:00    01-Jan-2021 14:14:00      1020          2            2    
    "Sat_12 satellite"    "Aircraft"          1           01-Jan-2021 13:57:00    01-Jan-2021 13:59:00       120          2            2    
    "Sat_9 satellite"     "Aircraft"          2           01-Jan-2021 14:09:00    01-Jan-2021 14:22:00       780          2            2    
    "Sat_11 satellite"    "Aircraft"          1           01-Jan-2021 14:26:00    01-Jan-2021 14:30:00       240          2            2    

Calculate System-Wide Access Percentage

Determine the system-wide access percentage, which is the percentage of time from the scenario start time to stop time when at least one satellite can access the aircraft.

Calculate the access status between the aircraft and each individual satellite over time using accessStatus. Each row of the output array corresponds with a satellite in the constellation. Each column corresponds with time steps in the scenario. A value of True indicates that the satellite can access the aircraft at that specific time sample. The second output of accessStatus contains the timesteps of the scenario.

[accessAnalysis.Status, mission.TimeSteps] = accessStatus(accessAnalysis.obj);

Use any to perform a logical OR on all rows corresponding to access of each satellite to the aircraft. This results in a single row vector of logicals, in which a given element is true if at least one satellite can access the aircraft at the corresponding time step for a duration of one scenario sample time (60 seconds). Use stairs to plot system-wide access status with respect to time.

accessAnalysis.SystemWideAccessStatus = any(accessAnalysis.Status, 1);
stairs(mission.TimeSteps, accessAnalysis.SystemWideAccessStatus);
ylim([-.2, 1.2]);
ylabel("System-Wide Access Status");

Figure contains an axes object. The axes object with xlabel Time, ylabel System-Wide Access Status contains an object of type stair.

Count the number of elements in the vector whose value is True. Multiply this quantity by the sample time of 60 seconds to determine the total time in seconds when at least one satellite can access the aircraft.

accessAnalysis.SystemWideAccessDuration = sum(accessAnalysis.SystemWideAccessStatus) * mission.scenario.SampleTime; % seconds

Calculate the system-wide access percentage.

accessAnalysis.SystemWideAccessPercentage = (accessAnalysis.SystemWideAccessDuration/seconds(mission.Duration))*100;
disp("System Wide Access = " + accessAnalysis.SystemWideAccessPercentage + " %")
System Wide Access = 67.3333 %

Animate the Satellite Scenario

Configure the Satellite Scenario Viewer to hide orbits and labels.

constellation.obj.ShowLabel = false;
aircraft.obj.ShowLabel = false;

Play the scenario.

mission.viewer.PlaybackSpeedMultiplier = 200;

See Also



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