** The student-led GU Orbit program at the University of Glasgow aims to
bring students into the world of space systems. It will primarily focus on developing micro-satellites with a specific mission in mind and getting them launched into orbit. Students from various disciplines are welcome to become members as we hope to create an interdisciplinary environment and ultimately provide members with an industrial-like setting so that they can get a feel of what it is like to work in the space technology sector.
The program recently arranged for getting their first satellite, Astraeus-01, to orbit via the Responsive Access launch broker: University of Glasgow GU Orbit Team Signs Smallsat Mission Agreement with Responsive Access – Satnews
Responsive Access Ltd. aims to simplify access to space through the use of innovative software and key partner relationships that provide a one-stop-shop for the launch of CubeSats and other small payloads into orbit.
While the search for a suitable rocket gets underway, GU Orbit are focusing on the technical development of their satellite, which is set to become the first ever to be fully built by a Scottish university. The University of Glasgow’s satellite could be set for launch by as early as next year, creating the possibility for it to be one of the first payloads to reach space from a developing UK spaceport.
GU Orbit’s President, Philip Voudouris, explained that thanks to the tremendous effort from the team members, significant progress on the cubesat, Astraeus-01, has been made, finally bringing ideas and ambitions to life as prototypes are manufactured and tested. The University of Glasgow has a strong reputation regarding its involvement in space technology and having opened its first space lab just last year, it has shown that it is prepared to push the boundaries of human presence in space. With Responsive Access helping to plan the mission ahead and selecting a suitable launch vehicle for Astraeus-01, the company is now one large step closer to seeing this satellite reach orbit and subsequently opening an exciting new frontier for students and researchers with a passion in space.
** Environmental monitoring MeznSat cubesat, built by UAE based university teams, will launch on a Soyuz rocket this summer:
MeznSat is a nanosatellite for climate observation, manufactured by Khalifa University of Science and Technology (KUST) in partnership with the American University of Ras Al-Khaimah (AURAK) and funded by the UAE Space Agency. The satellite’s primary payload will be a shortwave infrared (SWIR) spectrometer that makes observations in the 1000-1650 nm wavelength range to derive atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.
The secondary payload on MeznSat will consist of a VGA camera for post-processing that brings increased precision and accuracy to the SWIR spectrometer data. The combination of visible and SWIR bands will make MeznSat a unique CubeSat mission, specifically designed to generate a rich dataset for exploring atmospheric correction algorithms.
- Exolaunch to Deliver UAE Space Agency’s Small Satellite into Orbit on Soyuz-2 – EXOLAUNCH
- MeznSat—A 3U CubeSat for Monitoring Greenhouse Gases Using Short Wave Infra-Red Spectrometry: Mission Concept and Analysis
- #MeznSat – Twitter Search / Twitter
** Univ. of Iowa Halosat is demonstrating effective astrophysics observations on a cubesat platform: HaloSat Offers Galactic X-Ray Measurements on Shoestring Budget – SPIE
The entire scientific instrument weighs in at less than 3 kg and consumes about 4 W. The control system brings the package up to 12 kg, while the entire satellite is about the size of a thick book.
HaloSat was launched in 2018, and its mission has been extended until mid-2020. So far, it has mapped x-ray emissions from the Milky Way and the Crab Nebula. The simple mapping spectrometer has delivered remarkably clean data, which will enable a few years of analysis and insights.
Live fast, die young
HaloSat will deorbit before the end of 2020 due to drag, so the mission cannot be extended much longer. Such temporal limitation is part of the life of a CubeSat-they are the mayfly of spacecraft. The question is not if the satellite will live longer, but if useful scientific results can be gained from such a short mission. The researchers have proven the affirmative: low-cost, short-lived satellite missions can deliver useful results.
Here is a technical paper published about the project: Design and construction of the x-ray instrumentation onboard the HaloSat CubeSat, D.M. LaRocca et al, J. or Astronoical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems – SPIE
HaloSat is the first mission funded by NASA’s Astrophysics Division to use the CubeSat platform. Using three co-aligned silicon drift detectors, the HaloSat observatory measures soft (0.4 to 7 keV) x-ray emission from sources of diffuse emission such as the hot, gaseous halo of the Milky Way. We describe the design and construction of the science payload on HaloSat and the reasoning behind many of the choices. As a direct result of the design choices and adherence to best practices during construction, the HaloSat science payload continues to perform well after more than one year on-orbit.
This NASA video mentions HaloSat:
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General CubeSat/SmallSat info:
- Xplore forges partnerships for propulsion and in-space refueling – GeekWire
- [NASA selects Falmouth school for research satellite project – ] School Notebook: March 18 – Portland Press Herald – Another article about the Maine cubesat project mentioned here recently. It involves both university and high school participation.
- Chinese smartphone camera photographs Earth from space – Space.com
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