Aalto-2 satellite launched into space

April 19, 2017, Aalto University
Aalto-2 satellite launched into space
Illustration of Aalto-2. Credit: Aalto University

In the evening on Tuesday 18 April, Aalto-2, the satellite designed and built by students in Otaniemi was launched on the Atlas V booster rocket towards the International Space Station orbiting the Earth. It will take the cargo spacecraft Cygnus about three days to reach the International Space Station.

'We have been preparing for the launch of either Aalto-1 or Aalto-2 for a long time. There was a big crowd of us looking forward to and celebrating this historic event in Otaniemi,' says Professor Jaan Praks, the director of the project.

Aalto-2 will take part in the international QB50 Mission, the aim of which is to produce the first ever comprehensive model of the features of the thermosphere, the layer between the Earth's atmosphere and . Dozens of nanosatellites from different parts of the world will take part in the mission. Because Aalto-2 is part of a larger project, it will be registered in Belgium in the same way as the project's other satellites in order to simplify the permit procedures.

'The space station will release Aalto-2 into space within about one month of the arrival of the cargo. The astronauts will install the launch adapter into a robot arm, which will allow the satellites to be safely detached to their orbits. The astronauts will film the satellite being detached and that will be the last time we get to see the Aalto-2 satellite before starting to wait for a signal from it,' says Tuomas Tikka, a doctoral candidate at Aalto and one of the founders of Reaktor Space Lab.

The Aalto-2 satellite's orbit is close to the equator, so the satellite can only be occasionally in contact with the earth in Otaniemi.

'Several earth stations from around the world are involved in the mission. The information sent by the satellites will be shared by them all, so it is likely that the first time we hear from the Aalto-2 satellite will be with the help of one of the other earth stations,' says Tikka.

Aalto-2, which only weighs two kilogrammes, is carrying the multi-Needle Langmuir Probe (mNLP) payload developed at the University of Oslo for the measurement of plasma characteristics.

'Our team's primary goal will be to demonstrate how well the satellite platform designed and built at Aalto University functions in the challenging conditions of space,' Tikka continues.

Finland has officially entered space age

Construction of the Aalto-2 satellite began in 2012 as a doctoral project when the first students graduated as Masters of Science in Technology after working on the Aalto-1 project. Over six years, dozens of next-generation space industry experts have been trained in the projects. The impact is already visible in the growth of start-up companies in the space sector.

'Although there has been in Finland for several decades, Aalto-2 is the first Finnish-built that is now in space. Thanks to the cost-efficiency of , the industry is on the rise both in Finland and abroad ,' says Praks.

Explore further: Radiation influences Aalto-1 nanosatellite software design

Related Stories

Australian CubeSat prepared for launch by NASA

April 18, 2017

A University of Adelaide-built satellite will be launched early tomorrow morning by NASA from Cape Canaveral in Florida, on the Atlas V rocket bound for the International Space Station.

Prototype for narrowband Internet-of-Things system

June 29, 2016

Researchers at the department of Communications and Networking, School of Electrical Engineering, have implemented successfully a prototype for Narrowband Internet-of-Things system. This is a narrowband version of LTE (Long ...

Image: Small satellite deployed from the Space Station

January 2, 2017

A satellite is ejected from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Small Satellite Orbital Deployer on the International Space Station on Dec. 19, 2016. The satellite is actually two small satellites that, once at ...

Recommended for you

Unconfirmed near-Earth objects

June 22, 2018

Near-Earth objects (NEOs) are small solar system bodies whose orbits sometimes bring them close to the Earth, potentially threatening a collision. NEOs are tracers of the composition, dynamics and environmental conditions ...

HESS J1943+213 is an extreme blazar, study finds

June 21, 2018

An international group of astronomers have carried out multi-wavelength observations of HESS J1943+213 and found evidence supporting the hypothesis that this gamma-ray source is an extreme blazar. The finding is reported ...

'Red nuggets' are galactic gold for astronomers

June 21, 2018

About a decade ago, astronomers discovered a population of small, but massive galaxies called "red nuggets." A new study using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory indicates that black holes have squelched star formation in these ...

The Rosetta stone of active galactic nuclei deciphered

June 21, 2018

A galaxy with at least one active supermassive black hole – named OJ 287 – has caused many irritations and questions in the past. The emitted radiation of this object spans a wide range – from the radio up to the highest ...

0 comments

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.