Project Description


Ad-hoc networking technologies have a significant potential. They are crucial in case of absence of a fixed or reliable communication infrastructure, especially in remote regions where connectivity to the outside world has to be provided by some other means. Satellite communication is one of the solutions to provide this remote connectivity and sometimes the only solution. Current expectations dictate that satellites will be seen not only as a component of an alternative routing path but also as part of a unique (really integrated) system. Ad-hoc networking techniques are currently applied to Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs), consisting of a set of spatially distributed autonomous sensors, which cooperate to monitor a certain physical or environmental condition and pass their data through a network to a central processing location.

The Space WIreless sensor networks for Planetary Exploration (SWIPE) project intends to bring these two terrestrial technologies to space. In order to prepare for manned missions to other planets, the surface environment must be permanently monitored in order to have a clear notion of its conditions. Hundreds or thousands of small wireless sensors could be dropped from a satellite orbiting the planet onto the surface to assure a uniform and sufficient coverage. These autonomous sensors would then create their own ad-hoc network while some of them, equipped with satellite communication capabilities, would establish a link between the WSN and the satellite. Data gathered from the sensors would be processed and sent to the satellite and later to Earth. 


The main goal of SWIPE is to investigate the applicability of ad hoc networking to space addressing a planetary exploration scenario, based on a Wireless Sensor Network. In this context, the authors identified the following research objectives to be accomplished in the project:
  • To design the hybrid Satellite-WSN architecture for the planetary exploration.
  • To design and develop energy-efficient WSN and ad-hoc routing algorithms applied to this hybrid network.
  • To design and develop multi-sensor data processing and data fusion techniques.
  • To develop the sensor node, using a Software Defined Radio (SDR) approach.
Work Breakdown Structure

The project implementation is structured in 8 work packages, as shown in the following WBS: