The culmination of the first satellite project of the Centre of Excellence for Space Sustainability, Foresail-1, was attained on 25 May. The successful launch of the Space-X company's rocket Falcon 9 at the space centre in Cape Canaveral in Florida occurred late in the evening Finnish time.
Early on Thursday morning, Professor Minna Palmroth from the University of Helsinki, director of the Centre of Excellence, tweeted 'Our first satellite [is now] in the sky and everything's alright!'
The SpaceX rocket mission called Transporter 5 took dozens of smallsats to their orbit at 550 kilometres' elevation. The Foresail-1 satellite will orbit the Earth once in about 90 minutes, and will pass Finland every day at roughly the same time.
– The satellite has settled into its orbit and is regularly sending information about itself – the batteries are charging and solar panels working as they should. We are making small adjustments to the command system, but the satellite itself seems fine, says the director of the mission, Assistant Professor Jaan Praks from Aalto University.
More sustainable space research
All the systems and scientific instruments of Foresail-1 have been developed and built in Finland.
The satellite carries two unique scientific instruments: the PATE particle telescope that studies the radiation of inner space, and a plasma brake to remove the satellite from its orbit.
The purpose of the plasma brake is to significantly cut back on space debris in orbit by speeding up their re-entry into the atmosphere after use, where they will burn to cinders. Normally, it takes years for satellites to return into the atmosphere, but the plasma brake may speed it up to just a few months.
The objective of the PATE telescope, developed at the University of Turku, is to help researchers understand the radiation environment of space better than before, and thus prolong the lifetime of satellites in space.
– With the help of long-term financing from the Academy of Finland, we have been able to create the first scientific space programme in Finland with the purpose of developing more sustainable space research. Our first satellite journeying into space now is an important part of our research and we hope to be able to test our theories in practice, says Palmroth.
Foresail-1 images and videos can be loaded here.
The Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Space will bring together the top specialists in space science and technology in Finland, and aims at revolutionising experimental space physics with the help of nano-satellites. At the same time, it hopes to save the orbits from the space junk threatening them. The Centre of Excellence is led by Professor Minna Palmroth from the University of Helsinki and it consists of research groups from the University of Helsinki, Aalto University, the University of Turku, and the Finnish Institute of Meteorology.