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First Finnish science satellite is ready for space

Foresail-1, a milk carton-size satellite from the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Research of Sustainable Space, will utilise a particle satellite to study the near-Earth radiation environment.

Mikko Raskinen / Aalto University

Foresail-1, the first satellite developed by the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Research of Sustainable Space, will be integrated into the launch adapter in Berlin, Germany, before being launched into space from Florida, the US, on SpaceX Falcon 9 in mid-2022.

The satellite was designed to offer greater longevity and reliability than earlier miniature satellites by protecting its electronics from space radiation, told Jaan Praks, assistant professor at Aalto University.

“Several development versions of the satellite were built throughout the project, and the functionality of the systems was ensured through dozens of tests in conditions like high vibration, vacuum and low temperatures,” he commented.

The satellite plans will be made available as an open-source project.

All of the sub-systems and scientific payloads – the plasma brake and particle telescope – on the satellite were developed and built in Finland.

Professor Rami Vainio from the University of Turku said the particle telescope will enable the project team to determine how electrons exit radiation zones into the atmosphere, thereby facilitating the development of satellites that can better withstand space radiation and operate longer.

The plasma brake, in turn, will reduce the time it takes for the satellite to sink into the atmosphere and go up in smoke from years to potentially as little as two months, thus contributing to reducing the amount of space debris in orbit.

“The plasma brake works in theory and in our tests, but its braking force has not yet been fully measured in space,” said Pekka Janhunen, research manager at the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI).

Headed by the University of Helsinki, the centre of excellence was established to study space conditions and utilise the findings in the development of satellites that last longer in the challenging conditions of space. The centre also utilises the expertise of Aalto University, FMI and the University of Turku.

By: Aleksi Teivainen