Frequently Asked Questions
We want to democratize access to space, making space exploration affordable for everyone. Today, students and researchers have to wait years and pay millions of dollars to perform experiments in space. Even microgravity experiments using analog services such as drop towers, parabolic flights, and sounding rockets have lead times of months to years. ArduSat will be ready inside a year and with your support, we can make space accessible and affordable for everyone! As our friend Nathan W once so eloquently put it (when asked why he wanted to go to the International Space University): "because space is cool"! We agree, and we want everyone to have access to it!
The ArduSat team met at the International Space University in France in September of 2011 for their Masters Program in Space Science and Management. Since then, they've worked on a number of projects together, including satellite mission design, satellite engineering design competitions, and (with other collaborators), a quadcopter for flight in the ZeroG microgravity simulator. Since spawning the idea for ArduSat, they've joined forces in spreading the word about the ArduSat initiative with Discover Magazine, SciStarter and Science Cheerleader and have teamed up with MySpectral to see that the world’s first open-source spectrometer can make its debut in space.
Once the ArduSat safely in orbit thanks to our Backers, we plan to continually improve on the design, launch more open-source Arduino satellites in the coming years and make it available to an even wider population (albeit without the discounts we're giving our Backers)Last updated:
Yes! Just imagine: an idea that you’ve created (and if you participate in the contest, a sensors you picked) will actually fly in outer space, circling the Earth at nearly 8km per second, fast enough to circle it once every hour and a half. If you rent the satellite for a week, your experiment will have traveled over four million kilometers!Last updated:
A CubeSat is a miniature, cubic satellite based off the CubeSat Standard designed by Calpoly/Stanford in 2003. A single-unit (aka 1U) CubeSat is only 10cm x 10cm x 10cm, and weighs roughly 1kg. CubeSats can also be stacked together to form progressively larger satellites; a 2U would measure 10cm x 10cm x 20cm and weigh 2kg, for example. More information on CubeSats can be found either on Wikipedia or on the CubeSat homepage.Last updated:
Discover and Astronomy Magazine is running a 30 day challenge (until July 14th, 2012, midnight, pacific time) to find the most innovative application, game or experiment that can be done with ArduSat. Your submission has to operate with the constraints of ArduSat, using only its sensors, cameras and Arduinos!
The grand prize is worth $1500 and includes the advanced sensor package, delivered right to your door-step for you to implement your idea and run it in space for 1 week.
Detailed instructions can be found here : http://tinyurl.com/DSCRulesv4
Discover is putting together an expert panel around Corey Powell, editor in chief Nanosatisfi's Peter Platzer, a high-energy and fusion physicist and experienced coder will judge all submissions by feasibility which will be included in the consideration by the panel when deciding upon the most innovative submission.
So join us and impress us with your idea! Discover Magazine and the entire ArduSat team wish you the best of luck!Last updated:
The growing list of sensors currently includes:
Exterior and interior cameras
Vibration and shock sensor
Gyro and accelerometer
Coarse Sun sensor
Visible light sensor/photodiodes
EM wave sensor Infrared sensor
Single-event upset detector
Structure-mounted strain gauges
Read more about the EXPLORER package here:
Read more about the PIONEER package here:
The baseline model of the satellite uses Arduino Nanos, mounted on a custom PCB. Depending on the number of backers, however, we might also to upgrade to the most recent Arduino models like the Leonardo or the Due, or even Arduino Megas.Last updated:
Yes, for a while. One of the biggest challenges for electronics in space, besides all of the power and thermal issues, is radiation. The high-radiation environment can cause temporary short circuits (called single-event latchups), introduce errors in code (called bitflips), and eventually degrade electronics by altering the resistive properties of key junctions.
To prevent against bitflips, multiple Arduinos will run each program simultaneously, and use voting to eliminate random errors. To protect against latchups, the satellite will constantly monitor for over-currents and respond to protect the key circuits. And although ArduSat is too light to have any shielding to protect against long-term damage, the satellite’s relatively short lifetime (about 4-18months) means it will reenter before total cumulative damage to become a problem.Last updated:
How do you keep the Arduinos from overheating when there’s no air, and so no fans to blow away heat?
The Arduino processors that fly in space will be mounted on a custom PCB to save space and weight, which also allows us to mount them thermal spreaders, highly-conductive pads that help draw away heat, carry it to the outer surfaces of the satellite, and radiate it out into space.Last updated:
The most common method for launching a CubeSat is using the Poly-Picosatellite Orbital Deployer (P-POD) which allows CubeSats up to 3U in size to “ride along” on larger satellites that are already going to space. The 2013 launch manifest includes several launches using a variety of vehicles that are P-PODs compatible, including the Atlas-V, the Delta-IV Heavy, Orbital Science’s Antares 110 and 120, the Falcon 9 by SpaceX, the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). We’ve already entered talks with a number of organizations that coordinate CubeSat ride-alongs to book a slot.
Another option is to have ArduSat carried along to the International Space Station on a regularly-scheduled resupply mission, where it would be set free into its own orbit though the airlock on the Kibo module. There are four resupply missions next year flights using of unmanned Russian “Progress” vehicle, two planned flights of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, and three planned flights of Orbital Science’s Cygnus vehicles. We’ve started negotiating with companies to get ArduSat carried along on one of those missions.
As a backup option, there are a number of commercial launch service providers that could be used to put ArduSat in space. A commercial launch would be more expensive, but we've secured some contingency funding to finance it in case none of the other launch options work out. A commercial launch would also let us be more selective about our launch date and orbit type.Last updated:
Depending on the launch arrangement we make if we meet our funding goal, ArduSat will be put in one of two orbits. If we arrange to launch via a ISS supply mission, it would be the same orbit as the International Space Station, around 400-600km high at an inclination of 51 degrees. If we launch with a private launcher or another ridealong, we’ll be in a polar sun-synchronous orbit (circling around the earth’s poles) at an altitude around 600km or lower.Last updated:
If our Kickstarter campaign is successful, we can order parts and start assembling the satellite immediately. The integration and testing process will be complete before the end of next January, and we’re aiming to ride along on a launch within 12 months from the start of the KickStarter campaign. This is a very ambitious goal (it would make it among the fastest space projects ever in the history space) but we are committed to getting you into space as fast as possible.Last updated:
Our current plan is to use GENSO, a network of amateur-band ground stations connected through the internet that allows you to use any of the satellite communication terminals on the network from anywhere else. By connecting our interface to the network, we can communicate with ArduSat whenever it is in range of any of the stations. This means we can access the satellite more often and for longer.
As a backup option, we’re also looking discussing with private ground station operators for collaboration.Last updated:
ArduSat determines it position using a GPS, and calculates its orientation using a combination of sun sensors, gyros, and a 3-axis magnetic field sensor. To steer, it uses a set of three magnetotorquers, which push against the Earth’s magnetic field.
If our Kickstarter campaign is successful enough, we can upgrade to a 2U version of ArduSat we've developed, which would drastically improve the steering accuracy and let us use a higher zoom on some of the exterior cameras.Last updated:
ArduSat has solar panels on its outer surfaces that generate around 2-3W when it’s in sunlight. For times when it passes into the Earth’s shadow, or when it needs more power, it has an onboard battery.Last updated:
Like most CubeSats, ArduSat doesn’t have any propulsion system. As a result, the lifetime of the satellite really depends on how quickly it loses altitude before burning up in the atmosphere. Depending on the launch opportunity we negotiate, the satellite will last between 6 months (from the ISS orbit) and 1.5-2 years (for a private launch or higher-altitude ride-along).
ArduSat's relatively low altitude compared to most larger satellites guarantees that it will reenter Earth’s atmosphere on its own, leaving no debris in space. Since it is so small, none of it will reach the ground and so it won’t pose a risk to people on Earth.Last updated:
If our Kickstarter campaign is so successful that we start to run out of space inside the satellite or available timeslots, we will use the extra funding to upgrade to a 2U (or even 3U, the largest CubeSat that can fit inside a P-POD launcher), which would give us more space to house more processors, let us include more exotic sensors, and allow us to generate more power with extra solar panels. We’ve already prepared the design for a 2U ArduSat, just in case!Last updated:
The latest iteration of our Payload layout can be found here:
and we will update this link with the latest version regularly. If you have suggestions or tips, give us a shout, we'd love to hear from you!Last updated:
The GPS receiver noted if purely for experimental purposes. Although it only works under those limits, it will still give you a signal above those limits albeit that this signal won't give you the correct GPS position. However, this signal can be used for detecting ionospheric effects, attenuation etc.
If the mass budget allows, we will also put in a OEMV-1 GPS board, which is flight-rated. That being said, our actual flight GPS, to which you can also have access is spaceflight rated and will give correct positions.Last updated:
A datasheet of the camera can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/ArduSatCamera. It is highly interactive: "All camera functions, such as exposure, gamma, gain, white balance, colour matrix, windowing, are programmable through I2C interface". It is based on an Omnivision O7620 sensor.
The lens will have the following characteristics:
Focal length: 6.0mm
Aperture (D/f'): 1/1.8
Horizontal field: 29°15'
However, it is of course still a small CMOS camera that is very light and is very small, so the resolution is limited. As a reference you can find a picture taken by a similar camera on a recent Hungarian satellite http://m.cdn.blog.hu/cy/cydonia/image/cubesat/masat/masat_2012_03_12__05_53_PHOTO_19.jpgLast updated:
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