CzechTechSat - European Student Satellite Project

The Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the Czech Technical University in Prague (CVUT), the largest technical research facility in the Czech Republic, is a guarantor of Air and Space Systems program. Under this program, a new student project, CzechTechSat, of CubeSat format originated at the end of year 2011. Its establishment was motivated by a demand for evaluation of means regarding the improvement of lifespan of electrical systems in cosmic space.

For its realization, a team consisting of BA, MA and PhD students and pedagogues from Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Faculty of Mechanical Engineering . Department of Measurement, Department of Radioelectronics, Department of Control Engineering, Institute of Fine Mechanics and Optics and Department of Manufacturing Technology was established.

The team worked for two months on a research study in the form of an application for an international project of fifty satellites for a study focusing on lower layers of thermosphere called QB50 which was led by Von Karman Institute in Belgium. The project was supported by the dean of Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, a sponsor gift from World Association for Innovative Technologies (WAIT) and by a supporting letter of recommendation from the head director of the Czech Space Office.

Electronic subsystems, essential parts of small conventional satellite core . including magnetic and mechanical actuators, solar sensors, heat sensors, magnetic field, angular acceleration were designed and continuously realized based on this study. Similarly, solar parts panels for a testing of power supply were designed and built. The subsystems were designed primarily with focus on better lifespan in the environment with ionizing radiation.

The satellite is supplemented by a telescopic mechanism for a board magnetometer, which is to minimize magnetic sensor contamination during geomagnetic field measurements.

Another non-traditional instrument successfully realized at the Department of Radioelectronics is an onboard receiver of GPS signals which unlike conventional modules bypasses height and speed limits. Moreover, the Department of Radioelectronics is equipped with a satellite GPS signals emulator which is able to simulate the movement of an onboard satellite receiver at Earth.s orbit and thus is able to test the subsystem.

The satellite set can be placed into the so called .Tiny Solar Simulator., a small box with a window and a linear light source that simulates solar radiation corresponding to 1 AU, equipped with Helmholtz coils for simulation of the ever-changing geomagnetic field.

Apart from the QB50 Project, there is an ongoing dialogue between the leader of the PhoneSat Project under NASA/AMES regarding a possible cooperation on a U.S. project of low-cost space platform that would be guided by a .smartphone., both for commercial and scientific use. Among the considered is cooperation on GPS receiver, sensors or power supply.

There is a plan to build a ground station at the CVUT campus premises designed for operations within the Czech Republic. The reasons for such project are both practical and didactical; the station can be used to complement the practical lectures in various subjects and study fields. In other countries, it is common to have such ground stations either at university premises or close by for such projects.

Aerospace Research and Test Establishment in Prague, Letnany, has shown some interest in broad cooperation on onboard computer, software, communication subsystem and other activities. The Faculty of Electrical Engineering and informatics in Bratislava is also interested in a dialogue regarding cooperation on above mentioned projects.

There is a plan to enroll the CzechTechSat Project for a stratospheric balloon flight under the ESA REXUS/BEXUS Program. At such occasion, the team of researchers could introduce the project to the general public and, for the first time, test the cosmic engineering at the frontier of Earth.s atmosphere.

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