A Student Satellite

AAUSAT is a student satellite project at the University of Aalborg, Denmark, which was initiated in the Summer of 2003. The satellite project is a joint venture of the following institutes The project is giving the students a unique chance to experience a real engineering project with real engineering problems.

The CUBESAT concept

The CubeSat concept was developed by Stanford University and has been chosen for the second AAU satellite. The reasons are a fast development phase (within two years) and an inexpensive launch possibility, which both fits ideally to the project based education form used at Aalborg University.

CubeSat is a standardized platform for small orbital experiments. The weight of the entire satellite is less than one kilogram. The 10-centimeter cubes are designed to house small experiments that otherwise would be cost-prohibitive to flight validate. Universities, along with industrial interests, are able to place their own CubeSats into orbit using a standardized deployment system developed by California Polytechnic State University (CalPoly).

The deployment system is known as P-POD (Poly Pico-satellite Orbital Deployer), which mounts to various launch vehicles. This way a particular CubeSat team is not concerned with the issues related to the launch.

The Mission

The most important mission of AAUSATII is education. By participating in the project students gets involved in the complicated process of building a complex system like a satellite. This teaches the student to work together in small groups and, at the same time, coordinate their actions with other groups.

The primary "technical" mission is to get one-way communication with the satellite, and next is establish two-way communication.

The satellite caries two science experiments, an ADCS system and a gamma ray detector, that will be activated when two-way communication is established.

The primary goal for the ADCS system is to detumble the satellite, but it can also actively control of the satellites attitude in space, utilizing coils and momentum wheels.

The gamma ray detector is made by DSRI and it will detect gamma ray bursts from outer space.

The Satellite Structure

The AAU satellite is a CubeSat, thus its measurements have to fulfill the requirements set up by Stanford University and California Polytechnic institute, which originally developed the Cube-Satellite concept. The size of the satellite has to be 10 x 10 x 10cm, while its mass is limited to below 1kg. To achieve this, light materials are used for the structure of the satellite. Its design will be based on a frame of aluminum with sides made of carbon fibres. High requirements have been set regarding the structure of the satellite and its integrity, as it has to withstand high temperature variations (+80 and -40 C), vibrations and shocks, radiation, and the vacuum in space. However, the most vital task when designing the structure will be to keep the weight limited and to be able to fit all necessary subsystems into the structure. The images of the structural baseline of the satellite are available in following.