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The microsatellites laboratory provides prototyping, assembling and testing facilities for Cubesats. Here, students and engineers of the Space Center are developing Cubesat structure, innovative internal hardware systems and on board embedded software.
Space Center realized a pilot system project for company 'Future of advertising'. It is to show opportunity to demonstrate promotional materials from the orbit of the Earth Goal and tasks of the project were:
to develop the concept of demonstrating graphic materials from the orbit of the Earth, taking into account maximizing the number of views;
to develop a working version of the mission of demonstrating graphic materials from the orbit of the Earth;
to develop a spacecraft constellation at the system level and stratospheric test program for the next phase;
to conduct stratospheric tests for the "StartRocket" project, which involves the demonstration of visual advertising materials from the orbit of the Earth, launch to a height of at least 15,000 meters;
to provide photo and video recording from the ground and from the stratospheric probe in a resolution no worse than Full HD.
This is an assembly of the first Skoltech Cubesat - its engineering model. Cubesat on board computer (OBC) is placed on the top. It is based on STM32L4 microcontroller, its hardware was fully developed by students of the Space Center. This OBC may host BeagleBone Black Industrial computer, which increases its computational power. One of the functions, implemented in the OBC is attitude determination and control (ADC) - the OBC can control magnetic torques to orientate the satellite towards desirable direction. Another key function is running intersatellite communication protocol. Algorithms for both of these tasks are now being developped by our PhD students.
The assebly also includes side panels and power system, made in Skoltech, and UHF transmitter. The novelty in our power system comparing to existing commercial solutions is an own fully independant RF beacon, which will enable communication with the satellite in case of the main transmitter failure.
One of the key technologies in the Swarm project is intersattelite communication. Out team, led by PhD student Behnoosh Meskoob and Dmitry Ris, is actively working on the development of hardware, which will enable Cubesats to exchange information each with other without any ground control. PhD student Abdelraman Metwally is a lead software engineer of the project, providing our hardware with required intersatellite communication protocols.
Today, scientific discoveries are possible to be made on board satellites with just a few kilograms mass. Skoltech Space Center plays the first role in the Cubesat Swarm project, which unites several leading Russian universities for the common goal of deployment fully autonomous LEO Cubesat constellation, designated for astrophysical observations. In case of success, these Cubesats will be the first to detect electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational waves.
In this project, students of Space Center are in charge of structure design, thermal modeling and on board computer development. Mission design team also provides innovative algorithms, which will increase efficiency of developed hardware..
As well as small satellites development the laboratory also works on providing tests, validation and verification procedures. One of the key elements is testing the hardware in close-to-space conditions, the best scenario for that purpose is a stratospheric balloon launch.
This is also a course topic for most of the students studying in space department.