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French Space Programs for CubeSats and Small Scientific Research Probes to Deep Space

  • Pierre BousquetEmail author
Living reference work entry
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Abstract

French involvement in affordable deep space missions has been illustrated over the last few years by the accomplishments of the Philae lander in 2014 and by the mission of the MASCOT lander, developed with DLR, which was delivered on October 3, 2018, by JAXA’s Hayabusa2 probe on asteroid Ryugu. The value of CNES dedicated engineering skills, such as mission analysis for the descent to small bodies, and of French laboratories’ know-how in the development of high-performance miniaturized instruments has been demonstrated on both missions. It will be put into practice again through CNES’ contribution to JAXA’s MMX mission to Phobos in 2024, and more mission concepts are also being defined in partnership with major space agencies. In addition, CNES is also in charge of deep space instrument operations, notably at the moment for two NASA’s Mars missions, the Curiosity rover and the InSight lander. This general background will be elaborated in this article, together with French early microsatellite achievements through the Myriade family and with recent CubeSat development that culminated on December 18, 2019, with the simultaneous launch of the ANGELS 12 U Argos NEO demonstrator and of the EyeSat 3 U student astronomy spacecraft.

The second part of the presentation will elaborate on mission architectures for the most promising concepts that CNES has studied or been associated to where CubeSat class probes offer an advantage in terms of affordability, efficiency, and capacity to take risks. In some cases, typically between Venus and Mars, the small probes can operate as stand-alone missions of their own within the inner solar system. Alternatively, they can also augment larger missions to the most remote and challenging destinations in the solar system.

While microsatellites are affordable, and increasingly more capable, they should not be considered as a replacement for more traditional missions that require multiple coordinated measurements to accomplish their science investigation goal. Additionally, larger spacecraft remain far more powerful and can go to more remote locations and survive longer-duration missions and challenging deep space environments. Under many circumstances, however, large spacecraft can benefit greatly from the risk capacity provided by small probes that can be added on and from the multipoint capacity that they can provide.

Keywords

CubeSat Small probes Landers Deep space Planetology Space exploration Instrumentation Miniaturization Heliophysics Magnetophysics 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Science project DepartmentFrench Space Agency, CNESToulouseFrance

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