Gadget in extremis: Student-built Aausat4 satellite undergoes harsh testing

ESA Aausat4Truly Gadget-in-extremis. A nice picture from the European Space Agency (ESA) of the miniature Aausat4 satellite undergoing repeated temperature testing in a vacuum chamber.

The CubeSat is cooled to –10°C and heated up to +45°C for more than two weeks, to replicate the harsh conditions in space.

It is a miniature device, measuring 10x10x10 cm, and the satellite was designed and built by students of the Aalborg University in Denmark, no less.

ESA writes:

The satellite seen here, Aausat4, will track ships around Greenland using radio identification signals. Its predecessor, Aausat3, is reaching the end of its life after 18 months in space, having received 100 000 signals from ships in the first week alone.

Aausat4 features a significant upgrade in software and better-protected solar panels that will deliver more power. ESA’s education programme is supporting Aausat4 testing, and if the satellite confirms its flightworthiness, the Agency will sponsor a launch opportunity.

What are the tentacle-like wires trailing from the satellite? They are used are to measure temperature and also for power – the Aausat4 will fly without the wires and plastic casing.

When in space, the Aausat4 will track ships around Greenland using radio identification signals. ESA says its predecessor, the Aausat3, is reaching the end of its life after 18 months in space, “having received 100 000 signals from ships in the first week alone”.

Read more on the Aausat4 on the ESA website »

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