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Power efficient space probe for experimental research based on picosatellite


Project duration: 2009 - 2011

Project manager: Jiří Masopust

The idea of university satellite development originated from two members of the department, who cooperated on the radioamateur satellite czCube. In 2008, there was the research project “Power efficient space probe for experimental research based on picosatellite” prepared and from 2009 to 2011 it was funded by the Czech Science Foundation agency.

Identification of all fundamental weaknesses of standardized small satellites, called CubeSats, and the development of new solutions were the main goals of our project. The project focused on efficiency and reliability of solar power generation and accumulation, radiation susceptibility of electronics systems and sufficient radio transmission data throughput toward the ground control station.

During the project, there were proposed and verified several interesting technical ideas. These ideas cover the highly parallelized structure of fixed and deployable solar panels with small area solar cell strings or usage of the supercapacitors with carbon nanoparticles as complement to the fast degraded common accumulators. Furthermore, the work focused on redundant design of the inner supply and communication bus with safety bus drivers and disconnectors, design of the main doubled control computers with the ability of software upgrade during orbit operations, autonomous satellite position and attitude determination systems for better operation planning or software defined radio transceiver with adaptation to the current radio channel conditions.

The satellite launching hasn´t been realized yet due to the financial situation and short time of the project, however the work on development of the PilsenCUBE has been continued after 2011. The development focused on alternative mechanical structure with modular multi-layer shielding, m-ary chirp modulation and cross parity check codes. The solutions enable also other cooperation on next projects. For example, the experimental autonomous attitude determination system creates basis of the trigger system for X-ray imaging of the Sun on the VZLUSat. The ground control station will also offer radio connection service for the VZLUSat. Currently, it is also negotiated the future cooperation on the UV-Brite project for Masaryk University, where the services of satellite radio communication would be provided by the department.

Department of telecommunication and multimedia technics at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of West Bohemia

The department guarantee the preparation of bachelor, master and doctoral students in several specialized fields of study, covering the areas of audio and visual technics, radio and telecommunication technics, antenna technics, digital signal processing or design and simulation of low and high frequency circuits with CAD software. Since 2008 the group of young department workers has been focused on the research and development of specialized technologies for small satellites and on the supervision of students’ thesis in this field of study.

What would you name as main benefits of the project to you and your company?

“This project helped us to establish background for the group of young researchers and students, who could work in the prestige area of space technology development and to get necessary know-how step by step. There are still created many interesting bachelor, master and doctoral thesis, prototypes of satellite systems and necessary test beds. The results were published at the international conferences and in the international magazines. Last but not least, during the project we built the ground control station with own hands, where we are analyzing the radio transmission of current small satellites. This station will be also used in several following projects such as QB50 or VZLUSat.”