Radiation Hardness Assurance


Recent, Current and Future CubeSat Activities at FH-Wiener Neustadt

C. Scharlemann1, W. Treberspurg1, C. Obertscheider1

1 University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt



In 2013, long before CubeSat have become a ubiquitous tool for education and research, the university of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt (FHWN) has initiated a nanosatellite program as part of the education in Aerospace Engineering. The most visible output of this program is the 2U CubeSat PEGASUS, which was launched in 2017 and is successfully operating up to this date. As part of the educational program, the department of Aerospace Engineering is frequently conducting conceptional studies to explore the potential of CubeSats for future missions including:

  • CLIMB:
    Exploration of the Van Allen Belt and conducting radiation and magnetic field measurements
  • Solar Sentinel S3:
    CubeSats as an early detection and warning system against solar flares and corona mass ejections
  • Magneto:
    A distributed CubeSat swarm to investigate the magnetopause of Earth
  • Moonraker:
    A CubeSat constellation around the Moon, providing GNSS services to support ground explorations

In 2018, CLIMB was selected as the next flight mission of the FHWN (see cubesat.fhwn.ac.at). Funded by Lower Austria and the FHWN, the 3U CubeSat is currently under development. CLIMB will be launched into a low, circular orbit of about 500 km altitude. Using a Field Emission Electric Propulsion (FEEP) system, developed by FOTEC and commercialized by the company ENPULSION, the satellite will be lifted to a slightly elliptical orbit with its apogee around 1000 km – well inside the inner Van Allen belt.

Using a radiation monitor developed by Seibersdorf Laboratories, the satellite will continuously monitor the space radiation dose and its impact on CLIMB’s subsystems during its yearlong ascent to and operation in the Van Allen belt. The simulation of the expected radiation exposure in combination with radiation testing of the subsystems on ground, will allow to mitigate or consider specific radiation effects in the mission planning.

In addition, this comparison allows an evaluation of how well such ground tests can predict effects of space radiation on CubeSat subsystems. Such comparisons are an important contribution for future mission since they can help to increase mission safety and with that mission success. The second major payload of CLIMB is a magnetometer with a sensitivity of about 10 nT. Measurements with such accuracies require the investigation of the magnetic properties of the satellite itself. For this purpose, IABG provided the CLIMB team the opportunity and support to conduct measurements of the magnetic properties of an electrical model of the space craft at the MFSA facility. The preliminary results of those tests indicated a magnetic dipole moment of the satellite in the in the range of 20 mA.m2.