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: Bad weather delays Japan asteroid probe lift off

Provided by Finnish Meteorological Institute

5 /5 (4 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

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

Bad weather delays Japan asteroid probe lift off

1 hour ago

Bad weather will delay the launch of a Japanese space probe on a six-year mission to mine a distant asteroid, just weeks after a European spacecraft's historic landing on a comet captivated the world.

ESA image: The gold standard

10 hours ago

The Eutelsat-9B satellite with its EDRS-A payload is shown in the anechoic test chamber of Airbus Defence and Space in Toulouse, France, having completed its final antenna pattern tests today.

Frost-covered chaos on Mars

10 hours ago

Thanks to a break in the dusty 'weather' over the giant Hellas Basin at the beginning of this year, ESA's Mars Express was able to look down into the seven kilometre-deep basin and onto the frosty surface ...

Rosetta's comet: In the shadow of the coma

17 hours ago

This NAVCAM mosaic comprises four individual images taken on 20 November from a distance of 30.8 km from the centre of Comet 67P/C-G. The image resolution is 2.6 m/pixel, so each original 1024 x 1024 pixel ...

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.