NASA Works to Give Satellite Swarms a Hive Mind

Two satellites on similar orbits collect valuable perspectives on the same part of the atmosphere. (Credit: NASA/Sabrina Thompson)

By Karl B. Hille
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — Swarms of small satellites could communicate amongst themselves to collect data on important weather patterns at different times of the day or year, and from multiple angles. Such swarms, using machine learning algorithms, could revolutionize scientists’ understanding of weather and climate changes.

Engineer Sabrina Thompson is working on software to enable small spacecraft, or SmallSats, to communicate with each other, identify high-value observation targets, and coordinate attitude and timing to get different views of the same target.