Education and Science

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Thursday, 06.08.2020, 18:39

Estonia: Koit student satellite launched into orbit from Russian cosmodrome

BC, Tallinn, 05.07.2019.Print version
A Soyuz rocket launched from the Vostochny cosmodrome in Russia on Friday morning took into orbit a new generation Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) student satellite named "Koit" (Dawn), reported LETA/BNS.

TalTech said that the Soyuz rocket with Koit abroad was successfully launched from Vostochny cosmodrome at 8.41 a.m. TalTech's second satellite by the name of "Hamarik" (Dusk) will be sent to the orbit from a space center in French Guiana on a Vega rocket in the fall.  

Rector of TalTech Jaak Aaviksoo said that conducting scientific experiments in space is a major challenge for any university. 

"Koit and Hamarik are satellites with unique science programs, which will among other things also test digital signing of space documents. Projects such as this inspire young people to think and act big. Similarly to our Iseauto [self-driving car project], Koit and Hamarik, too, will shape Estonia's future," Aaviksoo said.

Rauno Gordon, the head of space science at TalTech, said that Koit and Hamarik are new generation student satellites.

"The most important and innovative test for such a small satellite will be the use of high-frequency data communications. The satellite has a small x-band radio transmitter, signals from which will be received by a high-frequency parabola antenna with a diameter of five meters set up in TalTech's Mektory [center for innovation and development]. Also important will be testing the satellite's fail-safe computer architecture, which must prove capable of continuing to operate despite the computing errors arising from the radiation found in space," Gordon said.

Gordon explained that in principle detailed color pictures can be taken of the Earth from space and that the globe can then be mapped using those images.

"We can also monitor the changes taking place in a particular region in closer detail, such as geological processes or weather phenomena. Near-infrared and dithering cameras make it possible for us to keep an eye on vegetation as well to see what sort of shape the plants in a particular place are in and how viable they are -- whether they're showing strong growth or drying up," he said.

During the five years when student satellite projects have been developed in TalTech following the launch of EstCube-1, Estonia's first ever satellite developed jointly by University of Tartu and TalTech, the number of people involved in the Koit and Hamarik project has been over 200. The team currently consists of 50 people, including students and lectures from engineering, economics and many other study programs.

The estimated lifetime of the satellites carrying a radio, battery and orientation control systems, cameras, on board computer and solar panels is two to three years.

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