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The history of the 4S goes back to 1992 and has had an ever increasing international participation over the years. The maturity of the event is marked by the close cooperation with two other prominent Small Satellite conferences: The Symposium on Small Satellites for Earth Observation (IAA and DLR) and The Small Satellites Conference (AIAA and USU). The information synergies and idea exchange originating from these close links ensure high standard of contributions and a very wide attendance.

Beyond Boundaries

Can small satellites expand the boundaries of our knowledge and be the key element of the next era of exploration?

The big impulse for exploration of the Solar System started in the seventies with the Voyagers and the Pioneers missions. What followed were more complex and larger spacecrafts that accomplished wonderful enterprises, such as Galileo and Cassini. We are now at a turning point, where smaller systems can accomplish missions unthinkable just few years ago. Small satellites have slashed down the cost of Earth observation and they are on the course of making interplanetary mission more affordable. Deep Impact, Hayabusa and New Horizons, the mission to Pluto, are recent examples of small satellites used for interplanetary missions.

The Solar System offers many fascinating places to visit: the ocean of methane on Titan, the volcanoes on Io, the ice canyon of Enceladus, without mentioning having a closer look at Saturn’s rings. Missions to these places will generate outstanding scientific results and will surely raise the interest of the larger public. Can small satellites, designed to reach one specific target like these, be built and launch at low cost and in a short timeframe?

What are the technical challenges of using small satellites beyond the boundaries of LEO orbits? We may need to rethink their design to cope with the difficulties of an interplanetary cruise lasting a few years. Ground stations for deep space communications will also play a role in the mission architecture. Is there any dedicated launcher that can significantly shorten the cruise time?

Can a swarm of small satellites be released from a mother ship on its interplanetary course? Or better, what are the innovative approaches and scenarios that will open new types of missions? Is the scientific community supporting small interplanetary missions wide enough to boost a new era of space exploration? 

Small satellites beyond boundaries is the special topic of 2018. Any contribution on small satellites for space exploration is warmly welcome. The selected papers will be discussed in a dedicated session on the first day of the event.
The programme will also cover technical sessions as: mission and system analysis; applications such as Earth observation, science, telecommunication and navigation; new technologies at system, sub-system and component level. A special session will be dedicated to access to space of Small Satellites, as launchers, platform cross-compatibility.