xi's moments
Home | Innovation

Harbin tech students send tiny satellite into orbit

By Tian Xuefei in Harbin and Liang Shuang in Beijing | China Daily | Updated: 2017-04-20 07:43

LilacSat-1, a satellite developed by students at the Harbin Institute of Technology.

A nanosatellite made by students at the Harbin Institute of Technology was launched in the United States on Tuesday as part of a mission to the International Space Station.

The satellite, LilacSat-1, was on a Cygnus cargo spacecraft launched atop an Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 11:11 am, according to Wei Mingchuan, the 26-year-old team leader and a second-year PhD candidate in astronautics at the institute in Heilongjiang province.

LilacSat-1 consists of two conjoined cube units, each with a side length of 10 centimeters. The 2-kilogram satellite will be deployed at a height of about 400 kilometers above the ground from the space station within three months of docking with the cargo craft. Docking is scheduled for Saturday.

In its three-month life span in orbit, the satellite will conduct investigations on Earth's mid-lower thermosphere, a section of the upper atmosphere about 200 to 400 kilometers above the ground.

"We will take measurements of the upper layers of the atmosphere using an ion-neutral mass spectrometer," Wei said. "In addition, we have a new type of radio repeater to provide two-way communication resources to amateur radio operators, as well as a CMOS camera to take photos from space."

Nanosatellites are small satellites that weigh between 1 and 10 kg, according to the team.

Lifted along with LilacSat-1 were 27 other nanosatellites of the QB50 project, a European Union-funded miniaturized satellite constellation created by students in more than 20 countries.

"This project is the very first international, real-time, coordinated study of thermosphere phenomena," said Davide Masutti, QB50 project manager at the Von Karman Institute, a scientific organization based in Belgium.

Wei said the data retrieved by LilacSat-1 would be shared by the science community and amateurs, as the programs will be released as open-source and require no special tools.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349