The SATURN mission

The SATURN mission (Synthetic AperTure radar cUbesat foRmation flyiNg) recently reached a significant milestone: the successfully conclusion of the Preliminary Design Review (PDR). It consisted of a preliminary system study with definition of technical requirements, assessment and critical technologies for a train of 3, 16U-MicroSats equipped with miniaturized SAR instruments.

The PDR closing meeting was held last week with participants ASI-Italian Space Agency, OHB Italia as leader of the project and the industrial team (ARESYS, AIRBUS and the Politecnico di Milano).

The main target of the SATURN mission is to demonstrate the key technology “Cooperative Multiple-Input-Multiple-Output (MIMO) Swarms of SAR MicroSats” for innovative, low cost and versatile Earth Observation applications.

SATURN will become the first ever Space SAR MIMO mission, introducing a new paradigm in SAR Earth Observation. SATURN will allow low-cost, scalable SAR missions for a quick approach to Space for private and public entities. The distribution of the key resources, normally concentrated in a single, large and complex satellite, can be distributed among small-sized and simpler systems, thanks to the proper combination of the signals from each single node of the swarm. Such constellation of swarms deployed on different orbital planes allows high revisit time and high performance independently from the available daylight and cloud cover.


The project team has successfully developed and tested three prototypes of some of the key technologies for the mission, demonstrating their technological maturity. SATURN swarms will be a “super Earth Explorer” thanks to its great versatility and reconfigurability enhancing real-time 3D imaging and a very short revisit timing.