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Nytt prosjekt på satellitter finansiert av Forskningsrådet

Vi har fått finnansiert et forskningsprosjekt i tilknytning til dette prosjektet av Forskningsrådet.  Prosjektet heter "A CubeSat formation for space debris characterisation"


Prosjektet vil bli ledet av Professor Raymond Kristiansen. Deltagerne er førsteamanuensis Pål Gunnar Ellingsen, førsteamanuensis Jose Juan Corona Sanchez, førsteamanuensis Tu Dac Ho og førsteamanuensis Juha Vierinen. Oppstart vil være i andre halvdel av 2023, og prosjektet vil lyse ut en stipendiatstilling.

Sammendraget (på engelsk er):

In this project, we aim to demonstrate the successful operation of a formation of two CubeSats capable of
characterising space debris in situ. Once operational, the satellites will characterise and record the orbital elements
of space debris smaller than the ground detection limit of a few millimeters. Very little is known about these objects,
even though there are millions of them in orbit, and they pose a significant risk for both astronauts and satellites. The
satellite formation will be able to simultaneously measure the same volume as using off the shelf commercial radars.

The satellites will be joined together to a size of 3U at launch, and once in orbit, split into two satellites which will
maintain relative distance and orientation using novel control strategies. The CubeSats will be designed with
actuators for reorientation (reaction wheels, magnetorquers), to be able to synchronize their attitudes to satisfy
mission requirements. Orbital adjustments will be made by utilising differences in drag, depending on the spacecraft
orientation, providing significant challenges to flight coordination.

The main objective in this project is to develop advanced scientific and technological solutions for measuring space
debris in situ with commercial radars using a formation of CubeSats under coordinated control. On completion, the
project will have shown that it is possible to characterise small pieces of space debris in situ using off the shelf
radars. The project will have then generated statistics of the orbital elements and density of debris, which will be
very useful as input to space debris models, satellite operations and planing of future satellites. In addition, the
project will have shown that it is possible to coordinate the orientation and maintain the relative position between
the satellites using a leader-follower scheme with attitude control actuators only.