C. Scharlemann1, R. Schnitzer1, A. Sousanis1, K. Repän1, C. Obertscheider1
1 University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt, Austria
Originally, CubeSats have been developed as educational instruments but during the last 10 years it was shown that this concept was also very useful for science, Earth observation, and, as proven by the NASA mission INSIGHT, also for space exploration. However, the two Nanosatellites, which have been flown with INSIGHT are small as CubeSats but, in terms of costs, they are significantly more expensive than a standard university CubeSat.
The next logical step is to develop CubeSats suitable for space exploration but within the cost frame of universities. If successful, this would open a new chapter in the already very successful CubeSat story. To achieve this challenging goal, several important advances are necessary of which the two most important ones are:
- Implementation of a propulsion system with significant dv capability
- Introduction of subsystems with sufficient lifetime and radiation resistance
For this reason, the mission CLIMB was developed. The technology of CLIMB is largely based on the successful mission PEGASUS of the Fachhochschule Wiener Neustadt. Similar as PEGASUS, CLIMB will be a 3U and it will utilize several subsystems, which have been developed for PEGASUS. However, the mission concept will be very different. By using an advanced propulsion system, the satellite will start from a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and then slowly increase its apogee up to 1 000 to 1 500 km.
The goal of this effort is to reach the inner layer of the Van Allen Belt (starting roughly at an altitude of 1 000 km). Mission analysis has shown that it will take about one year to increase the apogee from an initial value of ~500 km up to 1 000 km. During this time, measurements of the accumulated radiation dose and the magnetic field will be conducted.
After having reached the final apogee altitude and conducted all the desired measurements, the spacecraft will start to decrease its perigee altitude. This will ensure that the spacecraft is removed from LEO and, according to the Austrian space law, does not constitute a danger for future spacecraft missions in similar orbits.
In order to facilitate the survival of the satellite during the 2 year mission and the increased radiation it will accumulate, all sensitive electronic parts of CLIMB will be radiation tested. Initial testing at the TEC-Laboratory of the Seibersdorf Laboratories have already been conducted and more are planned with SEE facilities.