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Singapore: Nanosatellite Boosts Remote Sensing Capabilities

Image credit: cde.nus.edu.sg
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The Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Southern India, near Chennai, put into space a nanosatellite for remote sensing that was made by multidisciplinary students from Centre for Design and Engineering (CDE) of the National University of Singapore (NUS). The rocket PSLV-C56, which is run by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), sent Galassia-2 into space.

Nanosatellite Galassia-2 is a 3U CubeSat. It is 300 millimetres tall, 100 millimetres long, and 100 millimetres wide. It weighs about four kilogrammes. Using a multispectral camera on board, its main job is to do remote sensing for crops and changes in the environment.

Galassia-2 was launched with six other satellites, including the 351.9 kg earth observation satellite DS-SAR, which is owned by Singapore.

Mission controllers will stabilise the Galassia-2 and will also check that all the deployables have worked properly and test the satellite’s subsystems before starting the real mission. It should work for anywhere from six months to a year.

In 2017, a group of researchers came up with the idea for the project. Around 20 Final Year Project (FYP) students from CDE’s Innovation and Design Programme (iDP) and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering worked on the project.

Professor Teo Kie Leong, who is the acting dean of CDE cited that the successful launch and placement of Galassia-2 shows again that CDE is the best place in Singapore to train the next generation of space engineers.

He also said that the Galassia project is a chance to push the limits of technology and shape the future of Singapore’s space industry by bringing together students from different fields of engineering. He hopes that the outcome will inspire more students to use their skills and gifts in this important and quickly growing field.

Galassia-2 comes after the first Galassia nanosatellite, which was launched in December 2015 along with Kent Ridge 1. These two satellites were the first ones made at NUS to go into space.

The Engineering Design and Innovation Centre (EDIC), the Satellite Technology and Research Centre (STAR), and the Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing, and Processing (CRISP) at NUS are all helping with the project.

During Galassia-2’s mission, controllers expect to talk to the satellite once a week. Images from the satellite will be sent to the ground station at CRISP over the S-Band channel.  The people in charge of the project want to include CDE students in the activities to teach them how to run mission control and get more people interested in space-based technologies.

This year, researchers at the NUS STAR station built another satellite called Lumelite-4. It was also put into orbit by a PSLV rocket from the same space station in Southern India.

Nanosatellites have become a game-changer, opening new ways for researchers to communicate and do study. But because of their small size and limited resources, they need new ways to send and receive data and direct their missions. Digital communication methods are the key to the success of nanosatellites.

At the heart of this technology is the ability of nanosatellites to send important data to ground stations while also getting real-time mission commands. The use of digital tools makes it easier to send things into space and keep an eye on them all the time. This makes sure that the task works well the whole time.

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