Life and death of a Low Earth Orbit Nanosatellite

Séminaire IPAG de Sylvestre Lacour (LESIA), jeudi 18 octobre 2018 à 11h00, salle Manuel Forestini

PicSat is a space mission which goal was to monitor the Beta Pictoris system. The scientific objective was to observe the Hill’s sphere transit of the Beta Pictoris b planet. The mission has also a technical objective, to inject star light into a single mode fiber. The satellite was successfully launched on a 505 km orbit on January 2018, slightly behind schedule. First contact was obtained within hours, and commissioning of the sub-systems was still ongoing when the satellite fell silent, 10 weeks later. During this talk, I will present the science, the satellite, as well as the technical difficulties that we have faced. The interest of small space missions (of the order of a few millions Euros) is still debated inside the scientific community. The technology may not be fully mature yet. But I’ll show that it is an interesting prospect for the near future.