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Singapore Releases its Newest Satellite SCOOB-I

Image credits: ntu.edu.sg

After being released on a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle by the Indian Space Research Organisation, Singapore’s newest satellite tag SCOOB-I – which was conceived and constructed by students at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) – is presently successfully orbiting the planet. This is the first of the new Student Satellite Series (S3-I) to be launched, with the goal of providing engineering undergraduates with real-world learning opportunities.

SCOOB-I is also Singapore’s first “Heliophysics” mission, which will aid researchers in their efforts to comprehend the relationship between the Sun and Earth and how it affects climate. The satellite is designed for a six-month mission and will fly in a near-equatorial orbit 530 kilometres above Earth.

“Not many people in Singapore can claim to have built a spacecraft and to have it successfully launched into space. Satellite engineering is an interdisciplinary science and engineering field which requires large teams to collaborate to build mission-critical components, critical for a spacecraft to survive and operate in the harsh environment of space,” says Professor Louis Phee, NTU Vice President for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Dean, College of Engineering.

The successful launch of SCOOB-I is evidence of NTU’s top-notch satellite engineering expertise and the calibre of its students. More than 50 students contributed to the satellite as part of their education, including their master’s and doctoral theses, final year projects, and design and innovation projects. The students now have a distinctive learning experience and expertise that offers them a great advantage over other candidates when it comes to a career in the space sector by having them go through the same journey as existing satellite industry firms. Professor Louis Phee added that having hands-on experience in building real satellites will be invaluable in nurturing talents for Singapore’s emerging space industry.

This nanosatellite, measuring 35 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm, is the tenth NTU spacecraft to orbit Earth and is equipped with various NTU innovations that have never been tested in space. They include an attitude determination system, a new solar panel created internally at NTU’s Satellite Research Centre (SaRC), a small Earth-imaging camera that can take pictures of the Earth’s surface at 25 to 30 metres in resolution, and a solar spectral sensor that can measure the sun’s energy in different spectra of light.

Moreover, two major payloads make up the 1.7-kilogramme SCOOB-I. The first of these is the Earth-imaging sensor and camera, which can distinguish things on Earth that are between 25 and 30 metres long, or roughly the size of an MRT carriage.

Construction of Earth observation cameras is difficult since they often need a larger satellite to contain them, such as a microsatellite the size of a mini-fridge. Smaller cameras with good resolution may now be created, however, they must first undergo space testing before being on sale, thanks to sophisticated electronics like those found in smartphones.

The solar spectrum sensor, which is the second payload, enables NTU researchers to observe the Sun in 18 channels ranging from ultra-violet to infrared. The information can be used to determine the Earth’s Radiation Budget, a theory that describes the energy that Earth receives from the Sun and emits back into space. When the radiation budget is out of balance, the Earth’s atmosphere may experience temperature changes, which may have severe effects on the climate.

Another innovation found in the NTU satellite is new solar panels manufactured using a novel low-cost method that can generate 7 watts and charge the onboard 10Wh lithium-polymer battery.

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