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Volume 10 Issue 3
Mar.  2023

IEEE/CAA Journal of Automatica Sinica

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Article Contents
X. Y. Liu, T. Ma, Z. X. Tang, X. H. Qin, H. B. Zhou, and  X. M. Shen,  “UltraStar: A lightweight simulator of ultra-dense LEO satellite constellation networking for 6G,” IEEE/CAA J. Autom. Sinica, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 632–645, Mar. 2023. doi: 10.1109/JAS.2023.123084
Citation: X. Y. Liu, T. Ma, Z. X. Tang, X. H. Qin, H. B. Zhou, and  X. M. Shen,  “UltraStar: A lightweight simulator of ultra-dense LEO satellite constellation networking for 6G,” IEEE/CAA J. Autom. Sinica, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 632–645, Mar. 2023. doi: 10.1109/JAS.2023.123084

UltraStar: A Lightweight Simulator of Ultra-Dense LEO Satellite Constellation Networking for 6G

doi: 10.1109/JAS.2023.123084
Funds:  This work was supported in part by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2020YFB1806104), the Natural Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars of Jiangsu Province (BK20220067), and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
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  • The mega-constellation network has gained significant attention recently due to its great potential in providing ubiquitous and high-capacity connectivity in sixth-generation (6G) wireless communication systems. However, the high dynamics of network topology and large scale of mega-constellation pose new challenges to the constellation simulation and performance evaluation. In this paper, we introduce UltraStar, a lightweight network simulator, which aims to facilitate the complicated simulation for the emerging mega-constellation of unprecedented scale. Particularly, a systematic and extensible architecture is proposed, where the joint requirement for network simulation, quantitative evaluation, data statistics and visualization is fully considered. For characterizing the network, we make lightweight abstractions of physical entities and models, which contain basic representatives of networking nodes, structures and protocol stacks. Then, to consider the high dynamics of Walker constellations, we give a two-stage topology maintenance method for constellation initialization and orbit prediction. Further, based on the discrete event simulation (DES) theory, a new set of discrete events is specifically designed for basic network processes, so as to maintain network state changes over time. Finally, taking the first-generation Starlink of 11 927 low earth orbit (LEO) satellites as an example, we use UltraStar to fully evaluate its network performance for different deployment stages, such as characteristics of constellation topology, performance of end-to-end service and effects of network-wide traffic interaction. The simulation results not only demonstrate its superior performance, but also verify the effectiveness of UltraStar.


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    • A systematic and extensible simulation framework for mega-constellations is proposed
    • Modules of topology, network, discrete event and visualization are newly designed
    • This is the first trial to simulate such constellations of more than 10,000 satellites
    • The topology characteristic, transmission performance and network dynamics are evaluated


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