Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Steven C. Gustafson, PhD


The collaborative behavior of nano-satellites in a zero-gravity environment is explored, and satellite characteristics are proposed that maximize constellation robustness and minimize manufacturing costs. Behavioral algorithms are proposed to facilitate both swarming and structural formation and are validated using the Structural Emergence Simulator (STEMS) Graphical User Interface (GUl). A payload of multiple satellites is placed in a zero-gravity environment and released to re-configure autonomously into a pre-designed structure. Data transmission between satellites is not permitted during the swarming phase of the structure formation mission. A binary behavior algorithm is invented that produces a direction and magnitude solution to the satellite control system. A second behavior algorithm, the four-post algorithm, is invented to facilitate structure formation behavior. This algorithm switches satellite transmitter channels, effectively altering the path 0 incident swarming satellites. The algorithm is subject to two constraints: rules must be evaluated and acted upon locally, and the structure architecture must be known. Structural emergence is realized: the binary and four-post algorithms facilitate endless transitions from a gaseous swarming state to a solid structural state. Two methods of conserving fuel are discovered Fuel saving of 38% are realized by setting thruster levels based upon environmental noise, and fuel savings of 45% are realized by seeding structural formation prior to swarm equilibrium. Finally, analysis indicates a proportional relationship between architecture complexity and structure formation half-life.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number



The author's Vita page is omitted.