The primary purpose of the very first satellites was in support of telecommunications. Satellites with on-board data storage capability can collect data when overflying uplink sites and later transmit those data to a ground station. This provides a useful means of transferring data from remote locations to a central data processing facility. In the context of planned CSST activities in this Field of Operation, satellite-based data collection from proximal sensors will expand the footprint of distributed sensing to remote areas beyond terrestrial communications infrastructure, and allow much lower cost and time-efficient collection of such data. Such a capability would reduce the cost to farmers by having data collected via satellite from small and inexpensive sensors in remote locations. This approach would be realised through small, inexpensive battery operated terminals which can be placed in-field, or on livestock, and operate unattended over years. Examples of the application of such technology in regional industries include daily monitoring of the weight of remote bee-hives (www.hivemind.co.nz) resulting in a 18% projected yield improvement, monitoring the binary states of stoat traps in remote Fiordland as desired by Landcare and the Department of Conservation (DOC), and obtaining up- to-date in situ sensor data to complement space-based measurements of soil moisture and nutrients in a 4D-Var data product generation engine. Because current applications rely on satellites operated by other agencies, costs are prohibitively high for many applications. The availability of CubeSats operated and managed by CSST will lower such data telemetry costs resulting in a much wider range of applications for this technology in support of regional industries. REANNZ are interested in extending the reach of their data network to remote locations and CSST will work with them to schedule use of any CubeSat communication bandwidth that can be made available.
The CubeSats to be launched by CSST can be used to exchange large amounts of data with remote field stations as the satellite passes over, and which store and forward data to a central processing centre and back in near real time. In addition, to provide real time internet connectivity with a larger bandwidth than currently available, CSST could launch a cluster of small CubeSats set up in a handover constellation to provide a connection between to remote field stations and central data processing centres.