The Estonian student satellite ESTCube-1 took the first photo in Space
The Estonian student satellite ESTCube-1 successfully captured the first image of the Earth and downloaded it to the Mission Control Centre in Tartu yesterday. While many nanosatellites have had cameras on board, only a few have succeeded in delivering high quality images from the space.
The Estonian nanosatellite ESTCube-1 took its first photo at the height of 670 km above the Earth near Croatia. The camera was pointed towards South-West. On the photo, the Mediterranean Sea, Tunisia, and Sahara Desert can be seen. The image was downloaded through the satellite ground station at the University of Tartu, Estonia.
“The camera on board the satellite is actually developed for monitoring satellite proximity operations in space. It has VGA resolution, 640 by 480 pixels and this photo is the result of its in-orbit validation procedure. However, the quality of the image really surprised us in a positive way,” said Henri Kuuste, a member of the ESTCube-1 team and a student of Computer Technology at the University of Tartu.
“There are just a few universities in the world, where students can operate photo cameras in space. The camera on board of ESTCub-1 has been developed as a part of an undergraduate thesis,” commented Associate Professor Mart Noorma from the University of Tartu, the academic adviser of the student satellite project.
ESTCube-1 is a nanosatellite with 1 l volume and 1.05 kg weight. Estonia’s student satellite programme was initiated by the students and researchers of the University of Tartu and Tartu Observaotry in 2008 in order to popularise real sciences and engineering, give practical experience to the students, and promote enterprisingness. The main scientific mission of the ESTCube-1 satellite is to test the components of an electric solar sail, a novel propulsion technology for interplanetary space flight, invented by Pekka Janhunen from the Finnish Meteorological Institute.
Throughout its working period, the Estonian student satellite programme has involved nearly a hundred students from the University of Tartu, the Tallinn University of Technology, the Estonian Aviation Academy, and the Estonian University of Life Sciences. The project has been supervised by researchers from the Tartu Observatory and the University of Tartu. UT foreign students from Latvia, Lithuania, Germany and Ukraine have actively contributed to the project. The international project partners include also the University of Helsinki, the University of Jyväskylä, the University of Eastern Finland, and the German Aerospace Center. The project is supported by the European Space Agency.
The camera subsystem on board ESTCube-1: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ESTCube-1_CAM_v3_anodized.jpg
Artist’s impression of ESTCube-1 on orbit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Estcube_orbiidil.jpg
ESTCube-1 mission animation: http://youtu.be/WKnyPKOYOWA
More information: Mart Noorma, ESTCube-1 project adviser, e-mail: mart.noorma [ät] ut.ee (.)