A rapid method for validation and visualization of agile Earth-observation satellites scheduling


This paper describes a rapid method for validation and visualization of agile Earth-observation satellites scheduling. Benefited from the previous work, various algorithms are proposed for scheduling the observations of agile satellites. However, the satellite maneuvers are three- dimensional, this characteristic makes it difficult for the operation engineers to validate and interpret the scheduled solutions. They have to plot these attitude data to analyze different situations such as an observing phase or a slew maneuver. Finally, one tries to imagine the three-dimensional situations from many one-dimensional plots, which is time-consuming and susceptible to errors. Moreover, now it is low-efficiency to deal with the data about ephemeris, targets, etc., because different software platforms are required. In this research, a validation and visualization method is suggested to overcome this barrier. It is successful to integrate the Satellite Tool Kit ActiveX and the C# programming language. Based on the embedded scheme, all the interaction and assessment can be visualized. Practical techniques for modelling satellite objects, sensor objects, target objects and satellite attitudes are presented. Such a method has been applied for Chinese agile satellites project, and a software interface has been developed. The simulation results indicate that the proposed method is intuitive and efficient. Note that this method is general, and thus it can be applied to other Earth observation missions. Enough details are provided for interested readers to develop the software interface.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. [1]

    Zhang, H. J., Fang, J. C. Robust backstepping control for agile satellite using double-gimbal variable-speed control moment gyroscope. Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, 2013, 36(5): 1356–1363.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. [2]

    Zhang, J. R. The output torque estimation of MCMG for agile satellites. Acta Mechanica Sinica, 2010, 26(1): 141–146.

    MathSciNet  Article  MATH  Google Scholar 

  3. [3]

    Yang, H. W., Jiang, Y., Baoyin, H. X. Fuel efficient control strategy for constellation orbital deployment. Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, 2016, 88(1): 159–167.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. [4]

    Liu, X. L., Laporte, G., Chen, Y. W., He, R. J. An adaptive large neighborhood search metaheuristic for agile satellite scheduling with time-dependent transition time. Computers & Operations Research, 2017, 86: 41–53.

    MathSciNet  Article  MATH  Google Scholar 

  5. [5]

    Mansour, M. A. A., Dessouky, M. M. A genetic algorithm approach for solving the daily photograph selection problem of the SPOT5 satellite. Computers & Industrial Engineering, 2010, 58(3): 509–520.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. [6]

    Yuan, Z., Chen, Y. W., He, R. J. Agile earth observing satellites mission planning using genetic algorithm based on high quality initial solutions. 2014 IEEE Congress on Evolutionary Computation (CEC), 2014.

    Google Scholar 

  7. [7]

    Lemaitre, M., Verfaillie, G., Jouhaud, F., Lachiver, J.-M., Bataille, N. Selecting and scheduling observations of agile satellites. Aerospace Science and Technology, 2002, 6(5): 367–381.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. [8]

    Cordeau, J. F., Laporte, G. Maximizing the value of an earth observation satellite orbit. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 2005, 56(8): 962–968.

    Article  MATH  Google Scholar 

  9. [9]

    Bianchessi, N., Cordeau, J. F., Desrosiers, J., Laporte, G., Raymond, V. A heuristic for the multi-satellite, multi-orbit and multi-user management of earth observation satellites. European Journal of Operational Research, 2007, 177(2): 750–762.

    Article  MATH  Google Scholar 

  10. [10]

    Beaumet, G., Verfaillie, G., Charmeau, M. C. Estimation of the minimal duration of an attitude change for an autonomous agile earth-observing satellite. Principles and Practice of Constraint Programming–CP 2007, 2007, 3–17.

    Google Scholar 

  11. [11]

    Habet, D., Vasquez, M., Vimont, Y. Bounding the optimum for the problem of scheduling the photographs of an Agile Earth Observing Satellite. Computational Optimization and Applications, 2010, 47(2): 307–333.

    MathSciNet  Article  MATH  Google Scholar 

  12. [12]

    Tangpattanakul, P., Jozefowiez, N., Lopez, P. A multi-objective local search heuristic for scheduling Earth observations taken by an agile satellite. European Journal of Operational Research, 2015, 245(2): 542–554.

    MathSciNet  Article  MATH  Google Scholar 

  13. [13]

    Tangpattanakul, P., Jozefowiez, N., Lopez, P. Biased random key genetic algorithm for multi-user Earth observation scheduling. Recent Advances in Computational Optimization, 2015, 143–160.

    Google Scholar 

  14. [14]

    Beaumet, G., Verfaillie, G., Charmeau, M. C. Feasibility of autonomous decision making on board an agile earth-observing satellite. Computational Intelligence, 2011, 27(1): 123–139.

    MathSciNet  Article  MATH  Google Scholar 

  15. [15]

    Shreiner, D. OpenGL programming guide: The offcial guide to learning OpenGL, Versions 3.0 and 3.1. Addison-Wesley, 2009.

    Google Scholar 

  16. [16]

    Lam, T. K., bi. Haji Talib, A. Z., Osman, M. A. Real-time visual simulation and interactive animation of shadow play puppets using OpenGL. Proceedings of World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, 2008, 47: 212–218.

    Google Scholar 

  17. [17]

    Morisio, M., Seaman, C. B., Parra, A. T., Basili, V. R., Kraft, S. E., Condon, S. E. Investigating and improving a COTS-based software development. In: Proceedings of the 22nd International Conference on Software Engineering, 2000.

    Google Scholar 

  18. [18]

    Morisio, M., Seaman, C. B., Basili, V. R., Parra, A. T., Kraft, S. E., Condon, S. E. COTS-based software development: processes and open issues. Journal of Systems and Software, 2002, 61(3): 189–199.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. [19]

    McCamish, S. B., Romano, M. Simulation of relative multiple spacecraft dynamics and control with MATLAB-SIMULINK and Satellite Tool Kit. AIAA Modeling and Simulation Technologies Conference, 2007, 1038–1062.

    Google Scholar 

  20. [20]

    Li, S. Y., Liu, C. H. An analytical model to predict the probability density function of elevation angles for LEO satellite systems. IEEE Communications Letters, 2002, 6(4): 138–140.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. [21]

    Xhafa, F., Herrero, X., Barolli, A., Barolli, L., Takizawa, M. Evaluation of struggle strategy in genetic algorithms for ground stations scheduling problem. Journal of Com-puter and system Sciences, 2013, 79(7): 1086–1100.

    MathSciNet  Article  MATH  Google Scholar 

  22. [22]

    McCamish, S. B., Ciarcià, M., Romano, M. Simulations of multiple spacecraft maneuvering with MATLAB/Simulink and Satellite Tool Kit. Journal of Aerospace Information Systems, 2013, 10(7): 348–358.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. [23]

    Fang, X., Geng, Y. H. Simulations of spacecraft attitude control for tracking maneuvers with MATLAB and STK. 2014 IEEE International Conference on Information and Automation (ICIA), 2014, 1160–1165.

    Google Scholar 

  24. [24]

    Mason, W. J., Coverstone-Carroll, V., Hartmann, J. W. Optimal Earth orbiting satellite constellations via a Pareto genetic algorithm. Proceedings of the AIAA/AAS Astrodynamics Specialist Conference and Exhibit, 1998, 169–177.

    Google Scholar 

  25. [25]

    Hejlsberg, A., Wiltamuth, S., Golde, P. The C# programming language. Adobe Press, 2006.

    Google Scholar 

  26. [26]

    Nagel, C., Evjen, B., Glynn, J., Watson, K., Skinner, M. Professional C# 2005 with. NET 3.0, John Wiley & Sons, 2007.

    Google Scholar 

  27. [27]

    Battin, R. H. An introduction to the mathematics and methods of astrodynamics. AIAA, 1999.

    Google Scholar 

  28. [28]

    Bianchessi, N., Righini, G. Planning and scheduling algorithms for the COSMO-SkyMed constellation. Aerospace Science and Technology, 2008, 12(7): 535–544.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. [29]

    Yu, Y. N., Meng, X. Y., Li, K. Y., Xiong, F. F. Robust control of exible spacecraft during large-angle attitude maneuver. Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, 2014, 37(3): 1027–1033.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. [30]

    Boyarko, G., Romano, M., Yakimenko, O. Time-optimal reorientation of a spacecraft using an inverse dynamics optimization method. Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, 2011, 34(4): 1197–1208.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hexi Baoyin.

Additional information

Mingwei Yin is a Ph.D. candidate in Tsinghua University. He received his B.S. degree in engineering science and mechanics from Beihang University, in 2013. His areas of research include attitude control, agile earth observing satellites, space system engineering, and unmanned aerial vehicle.

Hexi Baoyin is a professor from Tsinghua University in China. He received his Ph.D. degree in space system engineering from Harbin Institute of Technology. Currently, he is an AIAA senior member. His research interests include astrodynamics, interplanetary mission analysis, and optimization.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Yin, M., Li, J., Wang, X. et al. A rapid method for validation and visualization of agile Earth-observation satellites scheduling. Astrodyn 2, 325–337 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42064-018-0026-9

Download citation


  • Agile satellite
  • Scheduling
  • Attitude determination
  • Satellite tool kit
  • C#