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Checking Wikipedia, I see that there are a number of Earth-imaging constellations of 5+ satellites, with Planet Labs' and Spire Global's being the largest with 80+ satellites.

What is the usual approach for scheduling the operations for such constellations?

I suppose that they must:

  • consider multiple satellites
  • follow an heuristic approach that is probably less random than a genetic algorithm
  • consider both the instruments operations and the communications with ground stations
  • consider the availability schedule of ground stations
  • consider exchange of data between satellites
  • produce fast results if a new scheduling is needed, or allow for dynamically introducing new operations
  • etc

So although the operations may be simpler than navigation or communication constellations, it still seems very complex and computationally-demanding.

Is there a general approach that is commonly used?

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    $\begingroup$ Can you give an example of a large imaging constellation managed by NASA? $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Sep 6 '20 at 12:58
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    $\begingroup$ Oops! You are right. I made a few changes here and there, after checking the actual list of constellations according to Wikipedia. Planet Labs and Global Spire seem to be the largest ones with 80+, although smaller ones of 5-10 satellites must also face a similar problem, maybe even more restrained given their longer revisit times. $\endgroup$ – Paek Se Sep 7 '20 at 4:17
  • $\begingroup$ edit looks great, thanks! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Sep 7 '20 at 8:08

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