CYGNSS: The evolution of Species Now on Space

The NASA CYGNSS mission is to form networks for future evolution.The swarm, swarms, nano- networks are more evolved of all time. They will be made up of hundreds and even thousands of spaceships working together, coordinated like a swarm of bees, orbiting the Earth with the same objective.

As the ancient philosophers said, to know the unknown you have to start from the known. An artifact as obsolete as a telegraph was revolutionary with respect to the postal mail and became, thanks to electromagnetism, a communication platform whose center was mainly the State.

In a similar way, traditional satellites have been and are the communication platform par excellence, and States have been involved and participated in its development from the very beginning.

Just as the telegraph was overtaken by the telephone and social networks, the advancement of microelectronics already allows the exploration of new concepts of satellite systems, such as swarm, federated and fractionated satellites, destined to surpass the traditional ones.

In fact, these innovative concepts of distributed space systems are becoming a true alternative in various fields such as planetary sciences and astrophysics.

The swarm, swarms of satellites , take their name inspired by animal species like bees

The swarm, swarms of satellites , take their name inspired by animal species like bees. It is something similar to current social networks, in which it cannot be said that the platform has a center, but rather that there is a multitude of fully functional members capable of operating in a unitary way.

Thus, the space and activity that emerged with social networks gives us an idea of ​​the revolutionary expectations of such an advanced robotic system: swarm satellites .

The main added value of the swarms lies in their enormous size. It is envisioned that they could contain hundreds or even thousands of individual spacecraft operating together to achieve objectives analogous to swarms of animals.

Each individual space in the swarm system will undoubtedly have restricted capabilities, but a large swarm of small spacecraft could generate a network of space systems that addresses local and global scale issues that would be impossible with traditional satellites.

The swarms are expected to contain nano-satellites and even femto-satellites with a mass of a few grams

The swarms are expected to contain nano-satellites and even femto-satellites with a mass of a few grams. The swarms could have numerous applications such as missions to characterize with great accuracy certain planetary processes with great space-time variability.

The federated satellites will be like the arrival of the radio and the telephone, which spread from the State to civil society, reproducing autonomous centers capable of coordinating and acting on their own, a key success of the industrial revolution linked to the proliferation of companies , and the maximization of resources that has always widened the space of the market economy.

The paradigm of federated satellite systems offers a collaboration between fully independent and heterogeneous space vehicles, analogous to “peer-to-peer networks” and “cloud computing”.

This new paradigm foresees a dynamic and continuous evolution of the infrastructure in orbit incorporating a variety of missions, which will create a source of space resources, where individual missions can act as a client or supplier depending on their particular needs.


In addition, there are the Fractionated satellites, which are the disaggregation of a traditional satellite into heterogeneous ones, with subsystems in free flight. This allows decoupling of system functions.

One of the main advantages of fractional architectures is that the sensors can be deployed independently of each other. This allows each customer to launch more mature sensors and start the mission immediately instead of waiting for the development of the less mature sensors.

Currently at NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) they are working on these lines of research. An example is the CYGNSS mission.

CYGNSS, which owes its name to its similarity to swans, is the genesis of a whole future of space evolution, because yes, swans now fly in space using GPS.

This text is the result of conversations on technological development between Jose Luis Perez Regueiro, researcher in Philosophy and Hugo Carreno-Luengo, researcher at the CYGNSS mission. Both authors have debated from their fields of expertise. Ultimately, human evolution is also based on working together from fully functional nodes capable of operating in a unitary way.

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