• Sun. Mar 7th, 2021

SpaceX has deployed a TU Dresden satellite to space


Jan 26, 2021

The TU Dresden satellite deployed by SpaceX will be analyzing nanomaterials in extreme environments of space to visualize its capacity to change solar radiations into electricity. Additionally, the surrounding of the satellite will be analyzed for more details. The satellite, which is dubbed SOMP2b, starts navigating around the Earth at the height of 500 km, which is a higher level than that of the International Space Station.

The satellite will be circumnavigating Earth in the sun-synchronous orbit above the TU Dresden launch station while signaling back to Earth its findings and measurements. SOMP2b will be the second satellite being developed by students after they developed its predecessor SOMP2. Students in the Faculty of Mechanical Science and Engineering at TU Dresden have been manufacturing nanosatellites to understand space navigation and research purposes. The term SOMP2b is an acronym meaning Student On-Orbit Measurement Project Number 2b.

The satellite’s weight is below 2 kilograms implying that the initial purpose was for it to be a smallsat meant for study initiatives. However, students decided to deploy it to space with the guidance of their tutors. SOMP2b will be maneuvering around Earth for about 16 times daily. This move is to create the extreme conditions in which they can monitor their experiments and the surroundings’ behavior. The movements will strain the materials and electronics making up the satellite. Moreover, solar particulates, low pressure, and other space materials will put more pressure on this nanosatellite.

Chief of the Satellite Systems and Space Sciences research field at the Institute of Aerospace Engineering, Dr Tino Schmiel, explained that the extreme conditions would test the nanomaterials’ rigidity when exposed to pressure in space. These materials’ behavior will help scientists predict how they can adjust or upgrade their development before developing another satellite of the same kind. More tests will allow them to design a nanosatellite with durable elements to survive the changing environment in space.

Schmiel added that they are developing protective mechanisms against electromagnetic radiation for motor vehicles and medical equipment. Additionally, the scientists evaluate the technology to convert solar energy to electricity in space and store it in this nanosatellite. Other satellites in this nanotechnology business include TEG, CiREX, and FIPEXnano, which are developments by partnerships within the space industry. The Mullard Space Science Laboratory, UCL/MSSL, and TU Dresden facilitated these projects’ presence through their support financially and resource-wise.