Space is an emerging global megatrend. Increasing numbers of small satellites are launched for scientific, commercial and military purposes. Although nanosatellites are an opportunity, they threaten the sustainable use of space, as without removal, space debris will eventually make certain critical orbits unusable. As of 2017, there is already over 5000 metric tonnes of junk in orbit. A central factor affecting small spacecraft health and leading to debris is the space radiation environment.

Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Space

A central factor affecting small spacecraft health and leading to debris is the radiation environment, which is currently unpredictable due to an incomplete understanding of plasma dynamics. Ultimately, this stems from sparse measurements and insufficient models. We select top Finnish assets regarding space debris and high-energy space plasma physics to ensure the sustainable utilisation of space for the next generations. 

We will build and launch a next-generation radiation-tolerant nanosatellite fleet, with a science payload testing the latest ideas explaining the dynamics of the near-Earth radiation environment, while demonstrating sustainability by bringing our spacecraft back to the atmosphere. We perform cutting-edge experimental analysis utilising international space missions and carry out unique supercomputer modelling in support of our fleet.

The partners in the Centre of Excellence in Research of Sustainable Space are:

  • Prof. Minna Palmroth, University of Helsinki (Director, and Modelling Team leader)
  • Associate Professor Emilia Kilpua University of Helsinki (Observations Team leader)
  • Assistant professor Jaan Praks, Aalto University (Platforms Team leader)
  • Professor Rami Vainio, University of Turku (Instruments Team leader)
  • Research manager Pekka Janhunen, Finnish Meteorological Institute (Propulsion Team leader)