Space debris, CubeSat standards, radiation belts, plasma physics and the electric sail. These were among the topics of the University of Helsinki Tutkijapiiri (researcher association for students) “My First Satellite” summer school organized by the Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Space. The summer school was held at the Kumpula Campus in mid-May and it was targeted for 1st to 3rd year students.

The definite highlight of the summer school was the student projects where five teams designed their own satellite mission. The days consisted of the morning lectures and the afternoon group work.  The student had to first come up with the idea for the mission goal and key scientific objectives.  Then the task was to plan the suitable instrumentations and payload, the orbit, data handling details, mass budget, and the schedule and finally estimate the cost of the mission. Each team had a tutor from the Aalto University, a student who works with a real satellite project.

Last day we had a gala where each team presented their project and afterwards ice-cream and sparkling wine were served. All presentations and mission were very carefully planned and prepared. We were amazed how much the students had learned and accomplished in only a few days and every team had put so much effort in their projects. The team whose mission was distinguished based on their ambition and particularly hard work was HERMES – A mission allowing us to watch the Martian on Mars.

The feedback we received from the students was excellent. The theme was considered motivating, lectures interesting and the group work in particular a refreshing and educative activity. We are looking forward to organize similar summer school in the upcoming years.

List of student missions:

  • Team 1 HelWeath: A mission to investigate ozone, clouds and air pollutant.
  • Team 2 MCCEP: A mission for monitoring climate change at Earth’s poles
  • Team 3 HERMES: A communication system consisting of three satellites to provide high-speed, near continuous optical transmission between Earth and Mars.
  • Team 4 Vision: Eyes on Venus – A mission providing radar imaging of the surface of the Venus, height profile and  hyperspectrum imaging
  • Team 5 4DSL: A proof-of-concept mission to use double disc satellite with iLaser to detect space debris



More about the subject: Science