Estonia's first satellite carries a tether for testing the electric sail

May 08, 2013

ESTCube-1, Estonia's first satellite, was successfully launched into orbit. The purpose of the satellite is to measure the electric sail effect. The Finnish Meteorological Institute bears the main responsibility for the payload.

Using a Vega rocket, Estonia's first satellite ESTCube-1 was successfully launched into orbit early Tuesday morning from Europe's in Kourou, French Guiana. After the launch, everything has proceeded according to plan. ESTCube-1 is orbiting the Earth and a radio link has been established with the satellite.

The main payload of the , which weighs about one kilogram, consists of a 10-metre electric sail tether and an electron gun used for charging the tether. The principal goal of the mission is to test the opening of the tether and to measure the electric sail effect in space by deploying the 10-metre tether and by charging it to 500 volts. The satellite also carries a camera for monitoring the behaviour of the tether in space and for taking images of the Earth.

If the electric sail principle works as planned, it will enable fast and economical transportation in the solar system without consuming any . It also offers an efficient way to prevent the accumulation of by bringing satellites back into the atmosphere once their service life is over.

The ESTCube-1 satellite was built by space technology students at Tartu University. The Finnish Meteorological Institute has the main responsibility for the electric sail payload. Important components were built at the Electronics Research Laboratory of the University of Helsinki (electric sail tether), the Accelerator Laboratory of the University of Jyväskylä (electron gun), the University of Eastern Finland (nanographite cathode for the electron gun), and at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) (motorised reel).

Explore further: Ceres bright spots sharpen but questions remain

Related Stories

Snap-proof space tether

Apr 02, 2013

(Phys.org) —Space tethers hold intriguing potential for satellite manoeuvring, attitude control and even power generation. But about half of all orbital tether tests have either failed to deploy or snapped, ...

EU project to build Electric Solar Wind Sail

Dec 09, 2010

The European union has selected the Finnish Meteorological Institute to lead an international space effort whose goal is to build the largest and fastest man-made device.

Europe launches new satellites into space

May 07, 2013

Europe's lightweight rocket, Vega, was launched from Kourou space base in French Guiana late Monday for the first mission, webcast live, since its maiden flight in February last year.

European Vega rocket launch delayed due to weather

May 04, 2013

The launch Saturday of Europe's lightweight rocket, Vega, from Kourou in French Guiana was put off until an unspecified date because of poor weather conditions at the space base, the European Space Agency ...

YES2 student payload released from Foton-M3

Sep 25, 2007

The Second Young Engineers’ Satellite (YES2) was activated and separated from the Foton-M3 spacecraft earlier today. The tether deployed for 8.5 km, after which the Fotino capsule was released on its way to Earth.

Recommended for you

Ceres bright spots sharpen but questions remain

18 hours ago

The latest views of Ceres' enigmatic white spots are sharper and clearer, but it's obvious that Dawn will have to descend much lower before we'll see crucial details hidden in this overexposed splatter of ...

Rosetta's view of a comet's "great divide"

18 hours ago

The latest image to be revealed of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comes from October 27, 2014, before the Philae lander even departed for its surface. Above we get a view of a dramatically-shadowed cliff ...

How long will our spacecraft survive?

19 hours ago

There are many hazards out there, eager to disrupt and dismantle the mighty machines we send out into space. How long can they survive to perform their important missions?

Why roundworms are ideal for space studies

19 hours ago

Humans have long been fascinated by the cosmos. Ancient cave paintings show that we've been thinking about space for much of the history of our species. The popularity of recent sci-fi movies suggest that ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.