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ESA flying payloads on wood satellite


The world’s first wood satellite is on the best way, within the form of the Finnish WISA Woodsat. ESA supplies specialists are contributing a set of experimental sensors to the mission in addition to serving to with pre-flight testing. WISA Woodsat is a 10x10x10 cm ‘CubeSat’ – a sort of nanosatellite constructed up from standardised bins—however with floor panels made out of plywood. Woodsat’s solely non-wooden exterior elements are nook aluminium rails used for its deployment into space plus a metallic selfie stick. Credit: Arctic Astronautics

The world’s first wood satellite is on the best way, within the form of the Finnish WISA Woodsat. ESA supplies specialists are contributing a set of experimental sensors to the mission in addition to serving to with pre-flight testing.


WISA Woodsat is a 10x10x10 cm “CubeSat’ – a sort of nanosatellite constructed up from standardized bins—however with floor panels made out of plywood. Woodsat’s solely non-wooden exterior elements are nook aluminum rails used for its deployment into space plus a metallic selfie stick.

The mission was initiated by Jari Makinen, Finnish author and broadcaster. He co-founded an organization referred to as Arctic Astronautics, which markets totally purposeful replicas of orbit-ready CubeSats for schooling, coaching and pastime functions. “I’ve at all times loved making mannequin planes, involving numerous wood elements. Having labored within the space schooling subject, this bought me questioning; why do not we fly any wood supplies in space?

“So I had the idea first of all to fly a wooden up to the stratosphere, aboard a weather balloon. That happened in 2017, with a wooden version of KitSat. That having gone well, we decided to upgrade it and actually go into orbit. From there the project just snowballed: we found commercial backing, and secured a berth on an Electron launcher from Rocket Lab in New Zealand.”

Riccardo Rampini, heading ESA’s Materials’ Physics and Chemistry part, feedback: “It’s been a good schedule however we welcomed the chance to contribute to Woodsat’s payload in return for serving to with serving to assess its suitability for flight.

“The first merchandise we’re embarking is a stress sensor, which is able to permit us to determine the native stress in onboard cavities within the hours and days after launch into orbit. This is a vital issue for the turn-on of excessive energy methods and radio-frequency antennas, as a result of small quantities of molecules within the cavity can probably trigger them hurt.

“This sensor is being built for us by Sens4 in Denmark, who have done a great job to strip down their standard design to fit limited onboard volume and power constraints.”

ESA supplies engineer Bruno Bras provides: “The good thing here is we have ended up devising a low-cost device that could find all kinds of further uses, both in orbit and down on the ground in test environments.”

ESA flying payloads on wooden satellite
The world’s first wood satellite is on the best way, within the form of the Finnish WISA Woodsat. ESA supplies specialists are contributing a set of experimental sensors to the mission in addition to serving to with pre-flight testing. WISA Woodsat is a 10x10x10 cm ‘CubeSat’ – a sort of nanosatellite constructed up from standardised bins—however with floor panels made out of plywood. Woodsat’s solely non-wooden exterior elements are nook aluminium rails used for its deployment into space plus a metallic selfie stick. Credit: Arctic Astronautics

Next to it will likely be an easy LED with a photoresistor that senses because it lights up. But the LED’s energy will come by way of a 3D-printed electrically-conductive plastic referred to as ‘polyether ether ketone,” or PEEK for short, opening up the prospect of printing energy or even data hyperlinks immediately inside the our bodies of future space missions.

ESA supplies engineer Orcun Ergincan feedback: “The other item is a quartz crystal microbalance, serving as a highly sensitive contamination monitoring tool, measuring any faint deposits in the nanogram range coming from onboard electronics as well as the wooden surfaces themselves. This has been contributed by OpenQCM in Italy. This company is also building the overall printed circuit board stack all three demonstrators with incorporated sensors.”

Plywood for Woodsat

Sponsors for Woodsat embody UPM Plywood in Finland, among the many largest plywood makers on the planet.

“The base material for plywood is birch, and we’re using basically just the same as you’d find in a hardware store or to make furniture,” explains Woodsat chief engineer and Arctic Astronatics co-founder Samuli Nyman.

“The main difference is that ordinary plywood is too humid for space uses, so we place our wood in a thermal vacuum chamber to dry it out. Then we also perform atomic layer deposition, adding a very thin aluminum oxide layer—typically used to encapsulate electronics. This should minimize any unwanted vapors from the wood, known as ‘outgassing’ in the space field, while also protecting against the erosive effects of atomic oxygen. We’ll also be testing other varnishes and lacquers on some sections of the wood.”

This extremely reactive oxygen variant is discovered on the fringes of the ambiance—the results of customary oxygen molecules being damaged aside by highly effective ultraviolet radiation from the Sun—and was first found when it ate away thermal blankets on early Space Shuttle flights.

Pre-flight testing suggests the satellite, which is able to orbit at round 500-600 km altitude in a roughly polar Sun-synchronous orbit, ought to survive its atomic oxygen publicity. But the wooden is anticipated to be darkened by the ultraviolet radiation of unfiltered daylight.

ESA flying payloads on wooden satellite
The world’s first wood satellite is on the best way, within the form of the Finnish WISA Woodsat. ESA supplies specialists are contributing a set of experimental sensors to the mission in addition to serving to with pre-flight testing. WISA Woodsat is a 10x10x10 cm ‘CubeSat’ – a sort of nanosatellite constructed up from standardised bins – however with floor panels made out of plywood. Woodsat’s solely non-wooden exterior elements are nook aluminium rails used for its deployment into space plus a metallic selfie stick. ESA supplies engineers are embarking a stress sensor, a check of electrically conductive plastic and a quartz crystal microbalance, all housed on the identical printed circuit board, plus a check of form reminiscence alloy. Credit: ESA

Onboard selfie stick

“We have a pair of onboard cameras, with one extended on a selfie stick to look back at the plywood and take pictures to see how it is behaving,” provides Jari. “We want to see color changes and any cracking and so on.”

Designing and manufacturing of the digital camera increase proved an fascinating train: the construction must be small as it may be inside the tiny satellite for launch, then prolong from it so far as potential when in space.

“The design was made by Finnish engineering company Huld, pushing 3D printing to its limits,” provides Jari. “For Huld the Woodsat project has already proved an important reference point for entering other space mechanics projects, too.”

As nicely because the cameras and ESA-donated sensor suite, Woodsat will even carry an beginner radio payload permitting amateurs to relay radio indicators and pictures across the globe. To downlink information from this “LoRa’ radio hyperlink facilitates involving shopping for a ‘floor station’ costing as little as €10.

“In the end, Woodsat is simply a beautiful object in terms of traditional Nordic design and simplicity, it should be very interesting to see it in orbit,” continues Jari. “Our hope is it helps inspire people to take increased interest in satellites and the space sector as something that already touches all our lives, and is only going to get bigger in future.”

Woodsat is because of launch earlier than the tip of this 12 months.


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ESA flying payloads on wood satellite (2021, June 10)
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