We love Arduino and we love space exploration. So we decided to combine them and let people run their own space experiments!
UPDATE: Help us break the 100k barrier! So join us now!
UPDATE: We’ve posted a bunch of ideas for ArduSat apps on our Ideas page! Just imagine - you could be at the helm of a machine that, in only an hour and a half:
flies away over the horizon at over 18 times the speed of sound,
detects meteors vaporizing in the skies over Europe,
photographs the sunset over the horn of Africa,
maps the Earth's magnetic field cruising over the Indian Ocean,
snaps a picture of the Southern Lights dancing underneath off the coast of Australia,
samples the upper atmosphere to learn about biomarkers and other signs of life,
stares down the eye of a hurricane,
maps the emitted spectrum of the sun,
- generates truly random numbers valuable to the financial, security and science community
and is already back over your head, having circled the entire planet!
More technical details on the satellite design in the video below:
Earthview timelapse video courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center.
The ArduSat Mission
Our mission is to provide affordable space exploration for everyone!
We want to get you into space! Once launched, the ArduSat (Arduino – satellite) will be the first open platform allowing the general public to design and run their own space-based applications, games and experiments, and steer the onboard cameras to take pictures on-demand..
By supporting the project you’re not only reserving your place at a discounted price at the front of the line to use it once it’s in space, but you’re helping us develop a platform to make space access affordable and achievable for anyone.
What you can do with ArduSat
To get your creative cogs turning, here are just a few of the ideas the ArduSat developers are cooking up. For even more application challenges and some ideas for high school and university student projects, check out our Ideas page and get commenting! http://tinyurl.com/ArduSatAppIdeas
SCIENCE: Meteor Hunter - Small meteors that strike the atmosphere every day created trails of ionized gas in the atmosphere in the upper atmosphere. Write an experiment to try and detect meteor impacts, by listening for radio stations beyond the horizon, reflected by the meteor trails!
FINANCE and SECURITY: True Random Number Generator - Cosmic rays are truly random and can be used to generate a sequence of truly random numbers. These are crucial (and hence valuable) for devising and testing financial models, secure codes, simulations and other scientific and commercial applications.
ENGINEERING: Your Eye in the Sky - Try writing an app that would synchronize the output of a head mounted-gyro to the steering system on the satellite. If you’re feeling really ambitious, try downlinking the attitude vector in real-time to watch the satellite follow your head - you could even tie-in your head-steering to our program that takes pictures! (Talk to Joel if you’re interested in this experiment!)
ENGINEERING: Point-and-shoot - The following settings can be set on the camera: "exposure, gamma, gain, white balance, color matrix, windowing". Try designing an algorithm that fine-tunes the settings to take even better pictures or more artistic pictures!
ENTERTAINMENT: Geiger Counter Bingo - Write an app that transmits a message with a random number and letter every time a particle hits the satellite with enough energy. Have a 'bingo from space' game between HAM radio amateurs.
ENTERTAINMENT: Photography Competition - See who among your friends can snap the coolest/most interesting picture from space. The eye of a hurricane, sunrise over the Indian ocean, even aurora from space – see what marvels you can capture!
Take Pictures from Space
The satellite is not just for scientific purposes; ambitious photographers and artists will be able to steer the satellite cameras take pictures on-demand of the Earth, the Moon, or the stars. Especially from the Artist community we expect to see some spectacular private space pictures so we all can marvel at the beauty of Earth from above.
How it Works
ArduSat is a miniature cubic satellite, measuring 10 cm along each edge and weighing about 1 kg. Onboard it will have a suite of 25+ sensors, including three cameras, a Geiger counter, spectrometer, magnetometer and more (check out the FAQ below for a full list). The sensors are connected to a bank of user-programmable Arduino processors, which run your application or experiment, gathering data from the space environment.
The Arduinos can also read status data from the satellite (like orbit position, per-system power usage, board temperature, etc.), so you can also run tests on the satellite itself. Check out our YouTube Channel for technical details and up-to-date videos of the payload development.
To run your application, experiment or steer the camera you can write your own code from scratch, leverage existing codes available on the internet or use one of the templates we will make available to our backers, creating a growing library of code elements.
Through our web-interface you can then upload your code to our exact replica of the satellite on the ground and make sure that it works as intended. Once you’ve worked out any bugs in your experiment (not that you would ever have any...) we will run a final test before it is uploaded into space to ArduSat. Now your code is running in space, steering the satellite and gathering data! Once the time you have booked on ArduSat is expired, we will send back the data to you via the internet.
Why You’ll Want In
Propose A Sensor or Cool Experiment and fly them in space!
Besides being first in line to use the satellite when it goes online (and the obvious bragging rights that come with it!), backers will also have the opportunity to propose additional sensors to include in the payload. Our mass budget currently allows for approximately 5 additional sensors, and we’re holding a voting competition for the best ideas.
Discover Magazine is also holding a competition for the most innovative experiment or application for ArduSat with a grand prize worth $1500 (for details see our extensive FAQ section at the bottom).What You're Paying For
We've already developed a prototype of the Arduino bank, the sensors, and the software that lets us remotely upload code to the satellite. We’ve also designed the satellite bus to carry all of those sensors and Arduinos: now we need your support to finance the hardware and assembly costs of the satellite itself, and the launch cost to put it into orbit.
Our fundraising goal is 35,000 USD, which will allow us to build, test, and integrate all of the hardware and software needed for a 1U ArduSat. As soon as the funding goal is met, we can move ahead with applications for free launches through various NASA or ESA ride-along programs. We believe that this project has enough technical, scientific, and outreach value to successfully secure a launch with these programs. However, if we are not successful in securing a launch with these programs within 18 month, we have secured funding to buy a commercial launch for ArduSat to make sure you get into space!
If at least 200 pioneer space scientists and artists join us, we can buy a commercial launch. This would not only allow us to launch your ArduSat as soon as it is built and tested, but also potentially launch the satellite to a higher altitude, meaning a longer operational lifetime with more opportunities for you to run experiments and take pictures.
If at least 300 self-made space scientists and artists sponsor ArduSat, then we can build a double-sized “2U” or even triple-sized “3U” version of the ArduSat we designed. The extra volume and power generated means that we can provide you with even more interesting sensors, such as high accuracy star sensors and infrared cameras.
Join the ArduSat Movement!
As an oft-quoted space captain once said, space is truly the final frontier, and ArduSat will allow you to participate in conquering it! By backing ArduSat, you not only become part of this adventure, but you also open the doors for many more to do so as well. As a backer we hope you’ll engage with us, and through your suggestions and voting, decide what kind of satellite ArduSat will be. ArduSat’s backers are more than just users, they’re satellite designers and explorers!
Our Platinum Partner: CATN
CATN, a UK-based hosting company, has joined the ArduSat movement as our Platinum Partner! The CATN team is racing ArduSat to launch their new vCluster PHP platform, which is an innovative clustered hosting service that allows web developers to effortlessly deploy their applications in a highly scalable and secure environment.
Our Corporate Space Partner: Arrowhead Systems of Stoke-On-Trent
School kids can be space scientists too.
Arrowhead Systems of Stoke-On-Trent is partnering with NanoSatisfi LLC to enable UK School children to design and run experiments on an innovative new satellite.
The founder of Arrowhead says: "I'm hoping that today's children and their teachers will be as excited about getting in to space as I was a number of years back, I remember sitting cross legged on the hall floor in junior school, as an American I'd never heard of appeared on the grainy black and white TV screen, hopped down a short run of steps and uttered 'One small step....'. The Internet has grown up around Open Source Software. Now people across the globe are collaborating, using the same open source philosophy but with hardware; Open Source Hardware.
Product designs that you can freely use, improve upon and make yourself, from 3D printers to interactive jewellery and mood lights to chairs that tweet when you fart! Arduino has traversed the world since its start in Italy in 2005, now ArduSat will take it another 300KM, this time straight up"
Learn how you can be a space scientist, follow progress and get updates on how you can join us by following https://twitter.com/@tioukcom and get your school into orbit.
Discover Magazine and Astronomy Magazine
Discover and Astronomy Magazine has partnered with ArduSat and will be running the Discover Astronomy Space Challenge: submit your ideas for the most innovative experiment, game or application run on ArduSat, we will fly the winner in space and give the applicant a free Team Development Kit worth $1500!
Become a backer of ArduSat and join the Challenge today! Watch the video and read more about it in our FAQ section at the bottom.
The panel deciding on the best application for the challenge is going to consist of the following judges:
Corey S. Powell - Editor of Discover Magazine
Phil Plait- Bad Astronomer
Ariel Waldman- founder of Spacehack.org
Peter Platzer - NanoSatisfi CEO
Darlene Cavalier - Founder of SciStarter and Science Cheerleader David Eicher- Editor in Chief of Astronomy Magazine
We've joined forces with SciStarter LLC and Science Cheerleader as our official community partners; they'll be helping us spread the word out about ArduSat to access as wide a pool of inventors as possible. We believe that space is for everyone to participate and SciStart and Science Cheerleader are a terrific partner in getting everyone involved, excited about space, science and technology!
We've partnered up with the newly-founded MySpectral, who will be developing one of the key sensors for the ArduSat payload, the world's first purely open-source spectrometer (called Spectrino). Our backers will be among the first to get access to this truly remarkable instrument with a wide range of applications.
We've partnered up with GOMSpace from Aalborg, Denmark, as our official engineering and integration partner. As the developer of much of the hardware used on ArduSat, their support will help us avoid development and integration woes while assembling the bus, meaning we can pour more time and effort into perfecting the payload.
GOMSpace CEO Lars Krogh Alminde had this to say about the partnership:
“GOMSpace is excited to have joined forces with NanoSatisfi as their engineering and integration partner to make ArduSat a reality. We strongly believe in the mission and goals of ArduSat, making space exploration affordable for everyone. Our CubeSat platform, and our flexible engineering and integration expertise fits the technical requirements of the ArduSat mission very well. This is an exciting project and we are very happy be part of it.”
Team Prometheus has joined the ArduSat project to provide two high-altitude test flights of the Arduino payload, one using a stratospheric balloon and one atop a suborbital rocket!
The first flight, scheduled for late September, will carry the payload prototype and flight computer to an altitude of 100,000 feet (roughly 30 km) using a balloon, and will allow for testing of the payload and sensor performance, onboard data handling protocols, and communication systems.The second flight, scheduled for October, will launch a new payload prototype and flight computer to an altitude of roughly 40 miles (64 kilometres) atop a balloon-launched rocket.
Near Earth LLC.
Near Earth LLC is very pleased to support the Ardusat Kickstarter project and the Nanosatisfi team. Near Earth is an investment bank focused on both incumbent and emerging high growth companies in the satellite, aerospace and wireless industries. We are a FINRA registered broker-dealer and can act as placement agent for private capital raises as well as financial and strategic advisors supporting mergers, acquisitions and the sale of companies.
DIY Sandbox is our partner for the design and development of the Arduino architecture and boards, and software and production support. They are a local, highly experienced MEMS design company that has built some very exciting products for the DIY space like the Platinum and we are excited to have them on board for our ArduSat project.
Freetronics, an Australian electronics manufacturer specialising in Arduino-compatible boards and devices has joined us in the quest for affordable space exploration! They have a fair amount of experience in DIY space projects and will help us with the design and production of the sensorboards. We'll work with them to get our prototype ready for our high-altitude balloon test with Team Prometheus. Check out their video on our youtube channel!
Orbiting Eden is very excited to partner with ArduSat because it gives us the opportunity to debut our web-based satellite command and control “eye in the sky” software. www.orbitingeden.com is a website that anyone can log into and use to control virtual spacecraft in the earth-moon system and that control will extend to real spacecraft! Orbiting Eden will allow ArduSat users to exactly predict where the space-craft will be and “see” what the space craft will see to plan their perfect picture. The ultimate goal of Orbiting Eden is to bring orbital dynamics into the collective consciousness as has been done previously with aerodynamics while providing a simple interface so one average person can control a satellite instead of the more conventional teams of highly trained professionals. You can log on right now to see the beta version of our space simulator.
We have discovered and already engaged a super team in Europe to help with your Arduino development - Codebender! It deeply integrates with the open documentation available on the Arduino website can be accessed directly from the IDE using a simple shortcut. One of codebender's main features is remote flashing: together with an Ethernet shield flashed with a properly designed TFTP bootloader, you will be able to upload a sketch remotely, over the internet! They have an IndiGogo campaign running as well, check it out!
You will hear more from us in how you can use Codebender going forward but we are very excited to be working with them and make your experience as easy and seamless as possible!
DVICE:"[G]et involved right now: there's no cheaper or better way to start doing a little bit of space exploration of your very own."
Bad Astronomy: "This is very cool: Discover Magazine is contributing to a project to help the public create and run an experiment that will actually get launched into space aboard a small cubesat satellite! This is a real thing."
New York Observer: "[T]he possibilities are endless: Amateur astronomers, budding physicists, video game designers or hopeless romantics could find a use for the service."
Engadget:'[S]ure, it's far cry from actually launching yourself into the stars, but would you rather be a tourist, or a scientist?'
Citizen Scientists League: "[T]his looks like a fantastic opportunity for amateurs to put their experiments out into space. The Ardusat Project looks very accessible, helpful, and willing to work with people who want to take part in this program."
Special thanks to
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)
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.jpg