Feasibility Study for a Low-Flying Spacecraft for the Exploration of the Mesosphere & Lower Thermosphere
In the framework of the ESA-Greece Task Force Programme, a team lead by the ATHENA-Space Programmes Unit has completed successfully a study demonstrating that an exploratory mission of the MLT region by a Low-Flying Spacecraft (LFSC) is feasible. The proposed Reference Mission Concept involves a highly elliptical dipping-orbit main satellite which releases a number of small sub-satellites with minimal instrumentation at selected perigee passes. The sub-satellites perform an orbit that gradually reduces its perigee altitude due to atmospheric drag. During each sub-satelliteís descent, the co-temporal measurements by the main satellite and the sub-satellite offer a unique and unprecedented synchronized two-point measurement through the whole MLT region.

ATHENA Research Center/Space Programmes Unit (Leader)
Democritus University of Thrace/Space Research Laboratory
Hellenic Aerospace Industry S.A.
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory