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  • ESTCube

    Eesti pilt kosmosest
    Image of Estonia from the space

    ESTCube-2 is the second Estonian satellite and a technology demonstration mission for deorbiting technology plasma brake, the interplanetary propulsion system electric solar wind sail (E-sail), a novel space propulsion technology invented by Pekka Janhunen (Finnish Meteorological Institute) that could revolutionize transportation within the solar system, and advanced satellite subsystem solutions. The project is supervised by researchers from Tartu Observatory and teaching staff from University of Tartu. The satellite is planned to be developed by 2018.

    On May 7th, 2013 student satellite ESTCube-1 was launched from Kourou, French Guiana aboard a Vega carrier rocket and is actively used since then. The satellite is a cubesat measuring 10 x 10 x 10 cm and weighing 1.05 kg. It operated untill May 19, 2015 when the batteries got empty for good.

    The tasks of ESTCube-1 was to test the deployment of a 10 meter Hoytether as a part of the development work of the Electric solar wind sail, to take a picture of it and  to measure the electric sail force, interacting with it. Additionally, to take a picture of the Earth as a secondary mission objective. The coil and camera optics of the sail has were developed in Bremen, Germany, however, the communication devices and electronics of the camera developed student satellite team members themselves.

    In March 2014, the attitude determination and control system software reached its full functionality. Shortly after this, a strong magnetic disturbance within the satellite was discovered, which did not allow spinning up the satellite around the axis predetermined for the E-sail experiment. 

    About 200 students from 10 countries participated in the project. Over 30 Bachelor thesis and over 20 Master thesis were defended. 14 scientific articles were published, 50 presentations made and 4 spin-off companies created. ESTCube-1 captured 300 photographs from space.

    The student team is developing an optical payload for the European Student Earth Orbiter (ESEO) mission of ESA Education Office. The ESEO is a micro-satellite mission to Low Earth Orbit. ESEO will orbit the Earth taking pictures, measuring radiation levels and testing technologies for future education satellite missions.

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