Category Archives: Space Radio

Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Oct.28.2020

A sampling of recent articles, press releases, etc. related to student and amateur CubeSat / SmallSat projects and programs (find previous smallsat roundups here):

** Embry-Riddle team building EagleCam CubeSat to captures images of the landing on the Moon of the Intuitive Machines Nova-C Lunar Lander: Eagles to Land First Student Project on Moon to Snap Selfie of Lunar Landing | Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Intuitive Machines, the company developing the Nova-C, offered Engineering students at Embry-Riddle this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — to design and build a camera system that will deploy from the Nova-C to capture the landing and, in the process, become the first university student project ever to land on the moon. 

Supported by a network of national scientists, Embry-Riddle’s “EagleCam” team — three Engineering professors along with a large interdisciplinary team of students — is designing a camera and communication system, or CubeSat, to launch to the moon and shoot the astronomical selfie. Just before approach, the CubeSat will deploy and freefall 100 feet to the surface to give the world its first glimpse of the spacecraft’s lunar landing. 

See also Bedford student helps create technology to capture first selfie of lunar landing – unionleader.com.

** Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) students to build two CubeSats in cooperation with a New Zealand team as part of an effort by the Five Eye (FVEY) signals intelligence alliance to use space technology more efficiently: NPS Supports FVEY Efforts to Streamline Space Technologies – DVIDS

The creation of Space Force has inspired a renewed interest in space systems research and innovation. In August, the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) received funding from the DOD to lead a project to streamline space technology among Five Eye (FVEY) countries. The project, headed by NPS professors Giovanni Minelli and Wenschel Lan, involves sending up two CubeSats containing experimental technology created by NPS students and New Zealand researchers. The payloads must be ready to launch into orbit by 2022. Once in space, the payloads will communicate with NPS researchers in the new Radio Frequency (RF) Testing Lab that overlooks the Monterey Bay.

NPS’ Space Labs have also brought elements of space to its students, so they can properly test out their payloads. The CubeSat skeleton is 3D printed, so students don’t have to start completely from scratch. They can carefully create their prototypes, using Raspberry Pi single-board computers in the clean room before testing them out in a variety of situations. For example, students have access to a thermo-pressure chamber and shaking machine that can “shake your teeth out,” according to Lan. They also conduct weather balloon tests to see how payloads respond to orbit-like atmospheric conditions. The goal is to think of everything that could possibly go wrong before actually sending a payload up into space.

** Taiwanese student CubeSat to fly on Momentus’  Vigoride demo mission set for this December: Momentus Announces Service Agreement for Gran Systems NUTSAT – Gran Systems (pdf)

The 2U NUTSAT was designed by the National Formosa University with the backing of the National Space Organization (NSPO) in Taiwan. One of the three NSPO cubesats launching this year, NUTSAT is a systems engineering training education program integrating an ADS-B receiver onto the cubeSat to demonstrate and enhance commercial aviation safety technology. NUTSAT is the first of the three cubesats to go for the launch integration.

** Univ. Colorado CubeSat project among 5 winners of the NGA MAGQUEST contest, which aims to encourage advancements in measurements of the Earth’s magnetic field.

Compact Spaceborne Magnetic Observatory (COSMO) CubeSat (University of Colorado Boulder). A CubeSat specifically designed and tested for magnetic cleanliness and accurate data from a compact form factor. A compact scalar-vector magnetometer designed specifically for CubeSats enables high-quality collection of magnetic field data.

** University of Iowa HaloSat discovers clumpy-ness in the halo of hot gases surrounding the Milky Way : Clumpy, Recycled Gas From Stars Surrounds Milky Way | NASA

The Milky Way galaxy is in the recycling business. Our galaxy is surrounded by a clumpy halo of hot gases that is continually being supplied with material ejected by birthing or dying stars, according to a NASA-funded study in the journal Nature Astronomy.

A halo is a large region filled with hot gas that surrounds a galaxy, also known as a “circumgalactic medium.” The heated gaseous halo around the Milky Way was the incubator for the Milky Way’s formation some 13 billion years ago and could help solve a longstanding puzzle about where the missing matter of the universe might reside.

The new findings come from observations made by a small spacecraft called HaloSat. It is in a class of minisatellites called CubeSats and is roughly the size of a toaster, measuring 4-by-8-by-12 inches (about 10-by-20-by-30 centimeters) and weighing about 26 pounds (12 kilograms). Built by the University of Iowa, HaloSat was launched from the International Space Station in May 2018 and is the first CubeSat funded by NASA’s Astrophysics Division.

While tiny compared to NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, HaloSat’s X-ray detectors view a much wider piece of the sky at once and therefore are optimized to doing the sort of wide-area survey needed to measure the galactic halo.

Because of their small size, CubeSats allow NASA to conduct low-cost scientific investigations in space. Six CubeSats to date have been selected in this Astrophysics Division series. 

In the new study, researchers conclude the circumgalactic medium has a disk-like geometry, based on the intensity of X-ray emissions coming from it. 

See also Where Does the Missing Matter of the Universe Reside? Halo of Gas Surrounding Milky Way May Help Solve Puzzle – SciTechDaily.com.

An artist’s rendering of the HaloSat in orbit. Credits: Blue Canyon Technologies.

The Iowa Univ. team and its partners, NASA/GSFC ( Goddard Space Flight Center) and JHU/APL (Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Laboratory), focused on developing the scientific instruments while Blue Canyon Technologies built the CubeSat hardware: HaloSat – eoPortal Directory – Satellite Missions

Deployment of HaloSat and NASA JPL’s RainCube from the ISS on  July 13th, 2018:

** CU Boulder leads CubeSat project with an innovative UV imaging system to study early universe: New CubeSat will observe the remnants of massive supernovas | CU Boulder Today

Scientists at CU Boulder are developing a satellite about the size of a toaster oven to explore one of the cosmos’ most fundamental mysteries: How did radiation from stars punch its way out of the first galaxies to fundamentally alter the make-up of the universe as it we know it today. 

Those insights will come from the Supernova Remnants and Proxies for ReIonization Testbed Experiment (SPRITE), a NASA-funded mission led by the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at CU Boulder. 

Scheduled to launch in 2022, the $4 million SPRITE is the latest in LASP’s line of little-spacecraft-that-could. This “CubeSat” will measure just over a foot in length and will weigh about 40 pounds. It will also collect unprecedented data from modern-day stars and supernovas to help scientists better understand a time in the history of the cosmos called the “Epoch of Reionization”—a period in which the universe’s first stars lived fast and hard, burning out and going supernova in a span of just a few million years. 

“We’re trying to establish what the universe was like when it first formed and how it evolved to where it is today,” said Brian Fleming, a research professor at LASP who is leading the SPRITE mission. 

The team also hopes that SPRITE will show just how much CubeSats can achieve. To date, most of these miniature spacecraft have focused on studying phenomena that are closer to home—such as weather on Earth or flares erupting from the surface of the sun. 

“There has been a perception that to do new astrophysics you need to collect a lot of light so you need something big,” said Fleming, also of the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences. “SPRITE is trying to do something different. There’s a lot of science you can do by optimizing your design and using new technologies.”

An artist’s rendering of the SPRITE CubeSat in orbit. Credits: LASP

** Neutron-1 CubeSat studies neutrons in low earth orbit as preparation for the LunaH-Map satellite to use neutrons to study distribution of the lunar surface. The neutron detectors on the satellites are developed by a Arizona State University team.

An ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration professor’s technology for detecting water ice, or hydrogen, on the moon debuted as part of the recently launched Neutron-1 3U CubeSat mission. 

Water ice, or lunar water, is the first evidence that water could exist on the moon and was confirmed to be on the moon by NASA in 2018.

Principal investigator on the project and professor Craig Hardgrove, along with an ASU team, developed a neutron detector that will be integrated with the Neutron-1 3U CubeSat mission led by Lloyd French, a program manager for University of Hawaii at Manoa and co-founder of the Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory.

The neutron detector allows researchers to map neutron abundances in low earth orbit as part of the LunaH-Map mission. The detector will also assist in UHM’s mission to study neutrons while testing its own efficacy for its intended mission.

The LunaH-Map satellite will orbit the moon in search of water ice sources on its surface. The CubeSat mission helps pave the way for LunaH-Map’s next year. 

Neutron-1 will be deployed from the ISS late this year. LunaH-Map is currently set to launch in November 2021 and will take about six months to reach the Moon.

More at:

The LunaH-Map CubeSat is in development by an Arizona State Univ. team. It will be the  first NASA mission designed, built and operated on the ASU Tempe campus. Credit: LunaH-Map/ASU

** Ohio State student built Bobcat-1 CubeSat reached the ISS via the recent Antares/Cygnus cargo mission. When deployed from the station, the CubeSat will study

From the Ohio News article:

Measuring approximately 12”x4”x4”, the nanosatellite will be deployed into low-Earth orbit to study Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), like GPS, in an effort to improve the availability and performance of these navigation systems for other satellites and spacecraft. 

The satellite is one of 11 small spacecraft designed at American universities selected by NASA’s CubeSat Launch initiative in 2018 to be transported into space. Dr. Sabrina Ugazio, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, and four OHIO engineering students developed the nanosatellite and the ground station, located on the Stocker Center roof, that will control and communicate with the spacecraft during its nine-month orbit.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects:

ANS-292 AMSAT News Service Weekly Bulletin

  • ARRL Comments in Orbital Debris Mitigation Proceeding
  • Changes to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution for October 15, 2020
  • PREDICT-2.2.7 for Linux, Unix, Android, and Raspberry Pi Platforms
  • ARISS News
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over
  • Tips for the New Operator

ANS-299 AMSAT News Service Weekly Bulletin

  • AMSAT Virtual Symposium Replay Available on YouTube
  • AMSAT Board of Directors Elects Robert Bankston, KE4AL, President
  • Satellite Acronyms Wiki Established
  • New Satellite Distance Records Claimed
  • Changes to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution for October 22
  • FO-29 operation schedule for Nov. 2020
  • ARISS News
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

** 2020 AMSAT Space Symposium and Annual General Meeting:

The 38th AMSAT Space Symposium and Annual General Meeting, held on October 17, 2020 includes updates on AMSAT projects and presentations on amateur satellite technology. For details on presenter names and presentation titles, visit https://www.amsat.org/38th-annual-ams….

AMSAT members can access the Symposium Proceedings at https://launch.amsat.org/Proceedings.

0:00:00 Welcome
0:02:07 AMSAT GOLF-TEE System Overview and Development Status
0:43:02 GOLF IHU Coordination
1:19:10 GOLF Downlink Coordination
1:50:15 FUNcube Next
2:13:50 LunART – Luna Amateur Radio Transponder
2:45:35CatSat HF Experiment Overview
3:13:30 Neutron-1 CubeSat
3:39:58 Progress and Development of Open Source Electric Propulsion for Nanosats and Picosats
4:15:00 AMSAT Education
5:14:00 ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) / AREx (Amateur Radio Exploration)
6:14:00 AMSAT Engineering
7:21:16 AMSAT Annual General Meeting

** Overview of the NASA TROPICS CubeSat Constellation Mission

Lecture: Overview of the NASA TROPICS CubeSat Constellation Mission Speaker: William Blackwell, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, USA [2020 IEEE GRSS & ISPRS] Young Professionals & Student Consortium Summer Schoo

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Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Oct.12.2020

A sampling of recent articles, press releases, etc. related to student and amateur CubeSat / SmallSat projects and programs (find previous smallsat roundups here):

** University of Hawaiʻi student-built Neutron-1 CubeSat reaches the  International Space Station (ISS): UH satellite to collect neutrons in space – University of Hawaiʻi System News

Diagram of the Neutron-1 CubeSat. Credits: Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory (HSFL)

A Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo vessel berthed to the ISS on October 5th after launching on a Antares rocket from Wallops Island on October 2nd. The Cygnus NG-14 mission carried roughly four tons of cargo, including Neutron-1 and several other smallsats for deployment into orbit from the station. Neutron-1 holds instruments to measure neutrons in space, particularly those coming from the Sun.

Through the 2015 RockSat-X mission, Kauaʻi Community CollegeWindward Community CollegeHonolulu Community College and Kapiʻolani Community College were also involved with the development of this mission. The Project IMUA community college collaboration led to the development of a functioning neutron detector, however it was lost during a suborbital test launch from Wallops Flight Facility. This set back the project until Arizona State University (ASU) became a collaborator on this mission by providing the neutron detector in 2018.

“Neutron-1 is a 3U CubeSat [small satellite],” said Amber Imai-Hong, an avionics engineer at HSFL and ground station coordinator for the Neutron-1 mission. “It’s approximately the size of a loaf of bread and the data gathered by the satellite will be used to understand the relationship between the Earth and the Sun by mapping neutrons in the low-earth orbit.”

Neutron-1 is launching on a rideshare mission, which includes other satellites, and will be in space for approximately one year. UH delivered the small satellite to NanoRacks, LLC in Houston, Texas on August 20.

** CSFU students developing a satellite to study wildfires: Students Fired Up to Develop Miniature Satellite to Fight Wildfires – Cal State Fullerton Univ. A group of undergraduates at Cal State Fullerton

are designing, manufacturing and building a cube-shaped, miniaturized satellite, known as a CubeSat, to observe Earth from space to predict and detect fires. The data captured is used to detect areas of risk — to put out fires before a blaze even starts.

“This year’s fire season has been particularly harmful. With the onset of climate change, we need to utilize tools such as satellites to study Earth and try to predict and prevent natural disasters,” said senior Patrick Babb, a mechanical engineering major who is leading the team project.

The 10-member student team is developing a prototype, dubbed “TitanSat,” which incorporates infrared cameras and solar power to monitor Earth’s climate and detect hot and dry zones that pose a wildfire risk. 

** Updates on the UAE MeznSat CubeSat recently launched in to orbit on a Russian Soyuz 2.1b rocket along with 18 other smallsats. (See previous posts here, here, here, and here.)

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects:

ANS-271 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin – September 27, 2020

  • 2020 Virtual AMSAT Space Symposium and Annual General Meeting [See also AMSAT 2020 Virtual Symposium schedule announced – Southgate Amateur Radio News]
  • Reminder: Current AMSAT Journal is available on Member Portal
  • AMSAT-DL Online Symposium
  • AMSAT-UK Convention
  • ARRL LOTW new user guide
  • AMSAT Field Day Results for 2020 have been posted
  • ARISS News
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

ANS-278 AMSAT News Service Weekly Bulletin – October 4, 2020

  • Virtual AMSAT Space Symposium and Annual General Meeting – October 17
  • AMSAT-UK Colloquium Online – October 11
  • ARISS Worldwide SSTV Event – October 4-8
  • Happy 27th Birthday, AMRAD-OSCAR 27
  • FCC Deletes 3.4 GHz Amateur Satellite Service Allocation
  • Chinese Amateur Radio Satellite Launches Delayed
  • VUCC Awards-Endorsements for October 2020
  • Message to US Educators: ARISS Contact Opportunity – Call For Proposals
  • Changes to AMSAT TLE Distribution for October 1, 2020
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • AMSAT Awards News
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

ANS-285 – AMSAT News Service Weekly Bulletin – October 11, 2020

  • AMSAT 2020 Virtual Symposium Schedule Announced
  • UH Satellite Successfully Blasts into Space
  • ARISS to Celebrate 20 Years of Ham Radio on the ISS
  • IARU Region 2 Releases 2020 Band Plan Revision
  • Two More Astronauts Earn Amateur Radio Licenses
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • ARISS News
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

** SEDS-Canada x Canadian CubeSat Project PanelSEDS-Canada

** BWSI Build A CubeSat Final PresentationsMIT Beaver Works Summer Institute

Caution: portions of the audio are difficult to hear
Build a CubeSat – Sierra Nevada Corp. Project Beaver Works Summer Institute will offer students the opportunity to design, build, and test a prototype CubeSat. Students will explore all the major subsystems of a satellite and get hands on experience with mechanical, electrical, and software engineering. The class will use these new skills to demonstrate a real CubeSat science mission in partnership with scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
– Introduction by Jack Fox
– Presentations
Astrobeever
Buzz Lightyear
Team Oddsat
BYJ Cube
Rubble Space Telescope
– Q&A

** 84- Microsoft Azure Orbital, Ground Station as a Service, and Dynamic GroundConstellations Podcast

On this Constellations podcast, the focus will be on Microsoft’s recent announcement of their Ground Station as a Service (GSaaS) offering “Azure Orbital” and what it means for the satellite industry. Azure Orbital is Microsoft’s managed service that is designed to deal with the growing flood of data for Earth Observation and Internet of Things applications. The managed service lets users communicate to, control their satellite, process data and scale operations directly in Microsoft Azure. Microsoft’s GSaaS takes a very different approach compared to traditional ground systems. Azure Orbital leverages key technologies such as virtualization, Software-Defined Networking (SDN), and cloud computing to enable customers to automate and scale operations across the globe. On this podcast Nora Zhan, Product Manager for Microsoft discusses Azure Orbital. She is involved in Azure Space, Satellites and Ground Stations and in bringing this new platform to market to provide satellite connectivity.

** The Open Source Satellite ProgrammeBritish Computer Society Open Source Specialists

Presented by Paul Madle Over the last 25 years, the UK has brought positive disruptions to the space industry. The University of Surrey innovated small spacecraft: leveraging Commercial-Off-The-Shelf components that could compete with larger more traditionally designed spacecraft. In the last 7 years, Scottish CubeSats (very small satellites) have grown from academic projects into commercially viable products performing earth observation and other applications. Both of these innovations have brought down costs and made space more accessible to greater numbers of people. KIPSE Space Systems aspires to be a catalyst for the next step-change to the industry by collaboratively designing a new, capable spacecraft platform that is open source, all design being freely accessible through the internet.

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Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Sept.24.2020

A sampling of recent articles, press releases, etc. related to student and amateur CubeSat / SmallSat projects and programs (find previous smallsat roundups here):

** Western University (Canada) and Arizona State teams to collaborate on CubeSat project:

[On Sept. 23rd] …Western signed a game-changing memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the MILO Institute, a non-profit research collaboration led by Arizona State University and supported by Lockheed Martin and its subsidiary GEOshare.

As part of the agreement, [Electrical and computer engineering professor Jayshri] Sabarinathan and her Western Space collaborators will contribute a one-unit CubeSat (a square-shaped miniature satellite roughly the size of a Rubik’s cube) to a MILO Institute and University of Texas at El Paso flight mission planned for June 2021 – an aggressive timeline, she admits, but that just adds to the excitement.

The project will contribute to development of technology for lunar and other deep space exploration.

Sabarinathan is also leading the Western Institute of Earth & Space Exploration team in another CubeSat project:

For the past two years, Sabarinathan and her team have been designing, developing and constructing a CubeSat with research partners at Nunavut Arctic College and Canadensys Aerospace Corporation, scheduled for launch in 2022. Ukpik-1, a two-unit CubeSat project outfitted with 360-degree imaging VR cameras and funded by the Canadian Space Agency, will fly to the International Space Station in two years. Next summer’s ‘bonus’ launch provides the team with an unexpected – but most-opportune – test run for its endeavour.

** Imperial College group delivers miniature magnetometer instrument for ESA RadCube mission to study the solar wind: Imperial completes new space mission instrument despite lockdown challenges – Imperial College London

The RadCube mission is designed to test new technologies for monitoring space weather – the variations in the solar wind coming from the Sun, which can disrupt and damage satellites and infrastructure on Earth.

RadCube is a ‘cubesat’ mission, which are designed to use smaller, cheaper and lower-power components than traditional space missions. The technologies in RadCube, if proven to work well in space, could be used in a range of future missions, such as constellations of multiple cubesats working together to measure the solar wind. CubeSat spacecraft are typically constructed upon multiples of 10 × 10 × 10 cm cubes, and RadCube is made up of three of these base units.

Imperial academics and technicians from the Department of Physics this week delivered a miniature magnetometer to the project in Hungary – an instrument that measures the interactions between the Earth’s magnetic field and that carried by the solar wind, which is a major component of space weather monitoring.

Rendering of the RadCube satellite. The MAGIC instrument sits on the end of the boom at the bottom. Credits: Imperial College

The individual detectors on their instrument – called MAGIC (MAGnetometer from Imperial College) – are less than a millimetre in size, and the total instrument sensor is only four centimetres cubed. This is in comparison to the sophisticated magnetometers the lab builds for large and expensive space missions, such as the recent Solar Orbiter mission and the upcoming JUICE mission, which are much larger and weigh a couple of kilograms.

The MAGIC instrument also uses less than a watt of power, compared to up to 20 watts for the larger instruments. While MAGIC is not as sensitive as these larger instruments, as it is much cheaper to build and uses far less power, the technology could be carried on several spacecraft working in tandem. In this way, the lower-quality data is compensated by a much larger volume of data.

The MAGIC (MAGnetometer from Imperial College) for the RadCube spacecraft. Credits: Imperial College

** Update on the UAE MeznSat student satellite: Mini satellite developed by UAE students to launch this month – The National

A miniature satellite developed by university students in the UAE to observe the country’s climate will launch later this month.

MeznSat was funded by the UAE Space Agency and built by engineering and science students at the Khalifa University and American University of Ras Al Khaimah (Aurak).

MeznSat’s initial lift-off was scheduled for the end of 2019, however it was delayed twice and will now blast into the skies on a Soyuz-2b rocket from Russia on September 28.

It is the third miniature satellite – known as a CubeSat – constructed in the Emirates.

See previous postings about the MeznSat project here, here, and here.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects:

ANS-257 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • Virtual 2020 AMSAT Space Symposium and Annual General Meeting on October 17, 2020
  • AMSAT Virtual Symposium Call for Papers
  • Preparations Continue for World Radiocommunication Conference 2023
  • Changes to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution for September 10, 2020
  • AMSAT-DL Announces Virtual Satellite Symposium September 26, 2020
  • AMSAT-UK Announces Colloquium 2020 October 11, 2020
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • ARISS News
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

ANS-264 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • AMSAT Board of Directors Elections Results
  • July/August AMSAT Journal Is Now Available
  • RAC Canada 2020 Conference and AGM is this Sunday
  • AO-7 Approaching Return To Full Illumination
  • Changes to AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution
  • Ham Radio Club Talk Collection On YouTube
  • ARISS News
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

** Sierra Foothills ARC August 2020: Cubesats! The story of the ASU Phoenix Cubesat project

The Sierra Foothills ARC was privileged to have Devon KM6MDG and Trevor KM6MDH talk about their work on the Phoenix Cubesat, AzTechSat-1. The two are graduate students at Arizona State University, and were involved with the program from shortly after conception, through deployment from the International Space Station, to operation afterward. In their talk, they review the objectives of the satellite, talk about its construction and their roles and challenges, and detail its current status.

** Welcome to the Space and Satellite Systems Club [at UC Davis]

The Space and Satellite Systems Club at UC Davis is the premiere space-based engineering club on campus. Our efforts are focused towards developing the skills and technical know-how necessary to design spacecraft by developing, manufacturing, and launching a CubeSat mission to Low-Earth Orbit (LEO). The club focuses on technologies for smaller spacecraft and cube satellites and covers a wide range of research areas from controls and dynamics to sensors, electronics and software. We are currently set to launch our first CubeSat (REALOP) later in 2021. This mission will be a technical demonstration of our in-house developed bus and technological components, the payload on the will serve as an earth sciences mission that will utilize IR and RGB cameras to study the thermal activity of the Earth’s atmosphere from LEO.

** The MILO Space Science Institute: Enabling New, Science-Focused Deep Space Smallsat MissionsThe Global Virtual Workshop I – Stardust-R

** ISS International Space Station Cross Band FM RepeaterTech Minds

Here we take a look at the brand new FM Repeater on board the International Space Station, launched on the 2nd September 2020.

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Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Sept.9.2020

A sampling of recent articles, press releases, etc. related to student and amateur CubeSat / SmallSat projects and programs (find previous smallsat roundups here):

** USC student team comes out on top in AIAA smallsat competition: USC Wins First Place in the AIAA Small Satellite Student Competition – USC Viterbi School of Engineering

A team of students from the USC Laboratory for Exploration and Astronautical Physics (LEAP), including Robert Antypas and Jeffrey Asher, doctoral students in the Viterbi Department of Astronautical Engineering. The students are working to optimize the design of ionic electrospray thrusters, in-space propulsion devices, in collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). These thrusters are small, light and powerful, easy to construct and customizable. These unique aspects contributed to the team winning first place in the AIAA Small Satellite Poster Competition. The students were supervised by Joseph Wang, professor of astronautics and aerospace and mechanical engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

Said Asher: “Unlike traditional electric or chemical propulsion technologies, these thrusters are able to scale linearly with the area by increasing the number of emission sites.” In other words, you can increase the level of thrust outputted by increasing the number of emitter tips on the device, a feature not currently possible on other types of propulsion technologies.

Major components of the USC electrospray testbed thruster. Image Credits: Jeffrey Asher.

“The ionic electrospray thruster the team created is an electrostatic propulsion device that operates by extracting and accelerating ions from the propellant using an electric field. The ion extraction is aided by the thruster’s use of a novel liquid propellant, called an ionic liquid. This liquid is highly conductive and freely “gives up” its charge when exposed to an electric field. It also has extremely low vapor pressure, so that it can withstand being directly exposed to the vacuum conditions of space without evaporating.” – USC

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects:

ANS-243 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • AMSAT Member David Minster, NA2AA, Elected ARRL CEO
  • Jeanette Epps, KF5QNU, Joins Starliner Mission To ISS
  • ANS Editors Wanted
  • CubeSat Challenge Seeks To Inspire, Prepare Students
  • Amateur License Fee Proposal From FCC
  • AO-92 (FOX-1D) Reverting to Safe Mode
  • GRBAlpha Frequency Coordination Completed
  • ARISS News
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

ANS-250 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • ARISS First Element of the Interoperable Radio System is Operational
  • FCC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Proposal open for comment
  • Successful Vega Mission Launches the Amicalsat Project Satellite
  • TEVEL Mission Nears Projected Launch Date
  • Changes to the AMSAT-NA TLE Distribution for September 3, 2020
  • VUCC Satellite Awards and Endorsements
  • ARISS News
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

** Autonomous deep-space CubeSat: where we are and where we are going – GVWI (The Global Virtual Workshop I – Stardust-R)

** Educational webinars – Session A – Build a Cubesat from scratchSatRevolution

SatRevolution is happy to invite you to a series of informational sessions (only 30 minutes long!), organized by our team and the team of our partners. This webinars has been recorded during Small Sat Conference 2020 this is way session is different in title and during webinars record. For more infromation please visit our website: https://satrevolution.com/

** Ask NMD Episode 1 – Guest, Prof. Jordi Puig-SuariNanosatellite Missions Design

Prof Jordi Puig-Suari is a professor and an aerospace technology developer. He is the co-inventor of the CubeSat standard, and co-founder of Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems. Prof. Jordi answered 2 questions from the many questions you asked us. The questions were “How did Cubesats begin” and “What is the relationship and collaboration between robotics, AI, software and space exploration”.

** SmallSat Mesh Networking – SmallSat 2020 Webinar – TethersUnlimited – YouTube

** Leveraging the Success of the CubeSat Standard to Create a SmallSat Standard for ESPA SpacecraftEnrico Congiu – YouTube

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Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – July.17.2020

A sampling of recent articles, press releases, etc. related to student and amateur CubeSat / SmallSat projects and programs (find previous smallsat roundups here):

** Two CubeSats deployed this week from the ISS: Spacewalk Preps, Satellite Deployment During Bone and Heart Research – Space Station/NASA

A pair of microsatellites were deployed into Earth orbit today outside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. The Deformable Mirror CubeSat will demonstrate the performance of a tiny but powerful exo-planet telescope. The TechEdSat-10 CubeSat will test returning small payloads safely into Earth’s atmosphere.

The CubeSats were launched to the ISS on a Northrop-Grumman Antares rocket in a Cygnus cargo vehicle on February 15th of this year.

TechEdSat-10 is the latest CubeSat sponsored by the NASA Ames Technology Education Satellite (TechEdSat) program. This spacecraft was developed in collaboration with student teams at San Jose State University and the University of Idaho. The primary goal of the mission is to test technologies for low cost return of small payloads from orbit. The CubeSat will deploy a Exo-Brake, which is

a tension-based, flexible braking device resembling a cross-parachute that deploys from the rear of a satellite to increase the drag. It is a de-orbit device that replaces the more complicated rocket-based systems that would normally be employed during the de-orbit phase of re-entry.

An Exo-Brake is a parachute-like apparatus deployed from a spacecraft to increase drag in the very thin atmosphere of low earth orbit. The increased drag will hasten the satellite’s reentry. This photo shows an Exo-Brake being packed into TechEdSat-5. Credits: ASA Ames/Dominic Hart

The TecEdSat-10 mission will

… further develop the tension-based drag device (an ‘Exo-Brake’) and demonstrate frequent uplink/downlink control capability. In addition, the Exo-Brake is modulated in order to change the drag profile and then permit, for the first time, a targeting experiment. TechEdSat-10 is sized at a scale of 3 m, which permits re-entry within 4 weeks at a ßof ~5 kg/m2. Understanding the thermophysics of such a device permits it to be scaled for larger payloads and re-entry within 1.5 days.

Targeting would allow the brake to return a payload to a specific area for ease of recovery.

The Deformable Mirror CubeSat (DeMi) project is an MIT project sponsored by DARPA. Deformable mirrors are used in ground-based telescopes to cancel out distortions in stellar images caused by variations in atmospheric density, temperature, etc. For observatories in orbit, there is no atmosphere to deal with but there are various structural and optical flaws,  small strains from temperature changes, etc. The goal for this mission is to demonstrate that such imperfections can be compensated for with a deformable mirror in a space telescope.

In order to image an Earth-like planet, an exoplanet direct imaging system needs to achieve a contrast ratio of 1 × 10E−10. Even with adaptive optics on a large ground-based telescope, it is currently not possible to overcome the effects from atmospheric turbulence to achieve the high contrast needed to obtain high-resolution spectra of an Earth-like exoplanet. While a space telescope does not have to overcome the effects of atmospheric turbulence, achieving a clear image usually comes at the expense of smaller aperture size (e.g., due to launch cost and launch vehicle limitations). The performance of a space telescope will still suffer from optical imperfections, thermal distortions, and diffraction that will corrupt the wavefront, create speckles, and ruin the contrast. High actuator-count deformable mirrors have the authority to correct high spatial frequency aberrations that would otherwise degrade the contrast in these conditions.

Deformable Mirror CubeSat (DeMi) serves as an on-orbit testbed for a MEMS deformable mirror. The baseline deformable mirror payload architecture incorporates a Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor for mirror characterization as well as a focal plane sensor for correcting an image of an external object. DeMi characterizes the on-orbit performance of a 140 actuator MEMS deformable mirror with 5.5 μm maximum stroke. The goal is to measure individual actuator wavefront displacement contributions to a precision of 12 nm. …

The ultimate goal is to enable space telescopes to image exoplanets directly:

Current space telescopes have limited ability to detect and distinguish small, dim objects such as exoplanets that are next to large, bright objects such as stars. MEMS deformable mirror technology can improve the imaging capabilities of future space telescopes.

Aurora Flight Sciences is managing the project and Blue Canyon Technologies built the spacecraft.

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-194 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • AMSAT Leadership Explains 2018-2020 Legal Expenses
  • Update on HO-107 (HuskySat-1)
  • AMSAT-DL Proposes LunART – Luna Amateur Radio Transponder
  • Buffalo Soldiers Special Event on the Satellites
  • Hamfests, Conventions, Maker Faires, and Other Events
  • Upcoming Satellite Operations
  • Upcoming ARISS Contacts
  • Satellite Shorts from All Over

** AMSAT arose from the HAM radio community and many educational and science related smallsats use amateur radio bands for communications. This article doesn’t include anything on AMSAT or amateur radio via satellites but it does give a good overview of the state of amateur radio globally: The Uncertain Future of Ham Radio – IEEE Spectrum.

General CubeSat/SmallSat info:

**  Building a CubeSat for less than $1000 — Part 3 — Avionics Schematic – Third episode in a series from RG SAT on how to build a low cost CubeSat.

Today I cover the schematic I created for the Avionics board of the Cubesat. The Avionics board essentially serves as the main computer for the Cubesat, including control of the Attitude Control System, and radio communications.

** CanSat, A CubeSat learning kit Made in IndiaWorld CanSat & Rocketry Championship – YouTube

A World CanSat/Rocketry Championship (hereinafter: WCRC) is generally an international competition open to elite competitors from around the world, representing their nations (as university student Teams or as independent student Teams), and winning this event will be considered the highest or near highest achievement in this field. The WCRC was formulated and negotiated among the Organizations from 6 countries: Serbia, India, Italy, Tunisia, Canada, and Peru (hereinafter: Founders) from October.

** Tracking CubeSats with a TelescopeBruce Van Deventer – YouTube

CubeSats are miniature satellites typically deployed into low earth orbit. A standard 1U CubeSat is a cube ten centimeters on a side. Here, I tracked three different CubeSats on the night of 6/17 at our dark site observatory. Tracking is performed blind, meaning there is no optical assist to help the telescope point to the target. These videos are shot using a Celestron RASA 11 telescope and the ZWO ASI 6200 mono camera, operated in 8 bit video mode, quarter frame size, 100ms exposure. That video is further cropped here to make it easier to find the satellite.

** Dove Satellite – Observing Earth With A Cubesat

I paid a visit to Planet, they’re one of my ‘neighbours’ in San Francisco’s SOMA district. Their business is planetary imaging and they’ve launched over 100 Dove Cubesats which are built around the largest possible camera you can fit in a cubesat.

** Aerospace CubeSats Blaze a Faster Trail to Space | The Aerospace Corporation

The challenge: Build and launch a pair of cube satellites on a tight budget and even tighter timeline. Here is how Aerospace engineers designed the Aerospace Rogue Alpha/Beta CubeSats as pathfinders for studying rapid reconstitution.

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