South African students using the tech being XinaBox (pronounced: X in a Box) to collect data in space is set to launch their Satellite on Thursday, 15th of November, 2018 with the Cygnus NG-10 mission from Wallops Island in Virginia, USA. Fifty-five student ThinSats will be deployed at an altitude of roughly 250km and will enter what is known as Extreme Low Earth Orbit (ELEO).
Schools participating include sixteen schools in the Western Cape of South Africa, collaborating on one ThinSat. These schools will be able to share their data with the USA-based schools collaborating on fifty-four ThinSats, collectively creating a BIGData project with never-before collected data.
Their task will be to collect data at this unique altitude, which has never been studied before. The satellites’’ orbits will degrade and they will re-enter the atmosphere after ten days. As these pico-satellites are only the size of a slice of bread, they will burn up completely in the atmosphere, not endanger anyone on our planet.
Data collected by the satellites’ sensors will be transmitted using a GlobalStar radio, and display on a data dashboard for interpretation and analysis.
The XinaBox sensors and the data to be collected include:
- An inertial measurement unit (IMU) to measure and report the ThinSats’ angular rate, and the magnetic field surrounding the body, using a combination of accelerometers, gyroscopes, and magnetometers. This data will allow the students to calculate pitch, yaw and roll of the satellite to describe its flight,
- A set of light sensors to assess visible light (lux), Ultra-Violet A and Ultra-Violet B. Using this data, the teams can calculate the light available for the solar cells to charge the on-board batteries, as well as the UV-Index experienced by the satellite, as it has no protection from our Earth’s atmosphere,
- Multiple temperature sensors on the frame of the satellite, as well as the interior of the ThinSat. The satellites will experience extreme temperature swings from way below zero when in the Earth’s shadow, and over 150 degrees centigrade when in full sun. Everyone is hoping to collect the temperature profile as the ThinSat burns up in our atmosphere!
- Radiation detection in the Infra-Red range, to complete the knowledge of the conditions the ThinSat finds itself,
- Each set of six ThinSats will have a GPS giving their location in orbit, and at least one will have a camera for orbital selfies.
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