The Union in Chile is in the midst of a zero-satellite policy as the country successfully completed its first space mission


After 457 days of operation, the nanotube SUCHAI 1, the first in a country developed by students and academics from the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences (FCFM) of Chile, completed its mission and demonstrated the feasibility of implementing space science at low cost and allowing the use of the results of their experiments in the development of new SUCHAI II and III nanowires.

The 1000 cm3 apparatus (or 10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm) sent data from the orbit of the Earth between June 2017 and October 2018, and while it is still surrounded by the planet, researchers from the Laboratory for the Exploration of Space and Planets (LEEP), FCFM, have already gathered enough data to analyze this first experience.

SUCHAI 1 has become one of the few nanotubes that remain in space for more than a year, reaching less than 5% of these instruments. During this time, he traveled about 338,791,514 kilometers and gave about 7,838 laps around the Earth.

In November last year, the University of Chile presented a space program with no progress at country level.

Celebration of satellite launches, June 2017, in facilities of FCFM Chile.

Chile on must

The fact is that Chile is responsible for satellite affairs at national level. The five-year warranty for the device, which was launched in 2011 as a FASat-Charlie country, expired in December 2016 and lasted its lifetime last year. In addition, not only does it have no substitution in sight, but can also cease to operate at any time, which would be a "blind" state.

"Chile lacks political determination to go through the universe," said Marcos Díaz, coordinator of the SUCHAI-1 project, Counter, July. "If we want to say that we want to be in the universe, which is good for us, given that our location is privileged, as astronomy suggests, just like with the sea or Antarctica, we can not examine it or analyze it," he added.

Chile does not have a national entity of a space agency, but the subject of the area in our country is facing the establishment of presidential advisory committees since 1980, Hector Gutiérrez, one of the few civilian experts on the subject, pointed out in this media that worked on Fasat satellites.

The last time the Council of Space Development Ministers met in November 2017 and prepared a report on activities for the period 2014-2017. They also analyzed the "National Space Policy 2014-2020".

"Chile has dropped to sixth place since 2001 to date, taking third place in Brazil and Argentina, and after Venezuela, Bolivia, he has tackled the scary leadership of the use of space technology in the South American region. And Peru, taking into account investments in infrastructure of the space and terrain segment, as well as the decision to implement the space agency under the law, "Gutiérrez warned.


Diaz, the head of the SUCHAI 1 | project, highlighted the achievements of the device on this occasion.

"The main learning we have achieved was to prove that we can develop technology for studies in Chile and out of it, and that this type of technology is feasible with the budget we have in the country, and that we can accelerate the innovation processes of the space," he said.

"Experiments with high scientific importance could be reproduced with sensors and a very low cost platform. And although this could be guessed, there are not many who would risk experimenting with instruments or low-cost systems that will go into space. This opens the door to a multi-point study – with so far the largest number of sensors – the space environment, "he added.

In this mission, SUCHAI 1 performed primarily space physics studies, in addition to technical tests with structures, electronic components, materials and flight software.

A picture taken from a satellite.


Among his achievements, it has been proven that with nanoscale it is possible to obtain data similar to those obtained with larger satellites and sophistication that are studying the "South Atlantic Anomaly".

In this area of ​​the planet, the Earth's magnetic field is weaker, so the flow of high energy particles sent from the Sun descends into lower altitudes or orbit, which can affect the operation of satellites in the area.

The anomaly covers a very large area of ​​South America and the Atlantic, extending to the coast of South Africa. The current maximum is near Uruguay and Argentina.

"Most space physics satellites use the anomaly to prove that their sensors are working properly. Our sensor has detected an anomaly that shows that our technology is functional and can be used again with future improvements in future missions to follow it through the multi-point concept," a real academician.

He added that the monitoring of the anomaly is important because the radiation belts (the layers of particles trapped in our magnetic field) change their shape and geometry with respect to the dynamics of the magnetic field and the activity of the Sun. particles are changing, and in 50 years it is predicted to reach Chile.

Less hostile orbits

Sustainability of the SUCHAI 1 in space enabled us to establish that the environment in Earth's orbit at 505 km of altitude is not as hostile as the researchers have assumed.

"Before we had SUCHAI 1, we had data that the temperatures in the room were very extreme, but we saw that the maximum satellite reached 20 degrees Celsius and the minimum was about 7 degrees. Although the vacuum imposes heavy complications, it takes away the heat that can create the component, "he says.

Information on thermal behavior is crucial for the design of new satellites and is one of the variables to be taken into account in the transformation of experiments, such as off-balance electronics, which in this case was designed for a more hostile environment. .

Other results

Among other results, progress has been made in several algorithms to study the health of the battery in real time, which would allow predicting and optimizing the operation and production cycles of satellites.

They also tested flight software, which is essential to ensure that the system works well as a whole.

The low-quality camera was rated in pixels as part of the satellite guidance system, in addition to using a gyroscope sensor. The use of this camera as well as orientation algorithms is the basis for more sophisticated guidance systems that will be implemented in the following missions.

The new systems will be based on the photos star position (startracker). Currently, the SUCHAI 1 research team continues to try to obtain the largest number of results with the data collected from each experiment in order to use them in the next SUCHAI II and III, and eventually in new nanotubes if the Space Program proposal, which led the University of Chile and which It is supported by the Senate Committee on the Challenges of Science, Technology and Innovation.

"We could contribute to space science at a reasonable price for the country, which shows that this progress is not only interesting for Chile, but also for the region and the world," Díaz concluded.

Next Limit: A Space Program for Chile

This university project, which has grown with competitive means of Conicyt and was carried out in partnership with other universities, aroused the interest of the commission for the future challenges of the Senate.

The Commission invited the FCFM to present a space program for Chile in mid-2018, which was later joined by 12 national universities and the Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission (CCHEN).

On December 27, Senator Guido Girardi gave President Sebastien Piñeri this proposal for space and satellite policy for Chile, which suggests the development of an investment.

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