Satellite taking Estonian student developed cameras into orbit is ready
The European Student Earth-observer (ESEO) is completed and hopefully already next month, two cameras made by Estonian students will be sent into orbit with it.
One of the objectives of the European Space Agency (ESA) student satellite ESEO is to take photos of the Earth for educational, research and outreach purposes. The possible applications of the cameras range from monitoring plankton blooms to changes in the polar ice caps.
Following the lead of the ESTCube-1 camera
Estonians have developed two miniature cameras for ESEO: a primary, wide-angle one and a secondary, telescopic one. Both can take color pictures of Earth.
The primary camera is a slightly modified version of the one that was on our student satellite ESTCube-1. As a matter of fact, Estonian students caught the eye of the project managers of ESEO by showing the beautiful pictures that were taken by the camera of our first satellite. One pixel of the primary camera is about 20 m on Earth..
The telescopic camera does not have a spaceflight heritage yet. One pixel of the secondary camera is about 20 m on Earth.
Rare opportunity for a recent space country
ESEO is an educational project of the European Space Agency. Its main purpose is to provide university students with a hands-on experience. “The educational missions of ESA offer students an amazing opportunity to be part of developing the kind of satellites that would be prohibitively expensive for individual educational institutions,“ said one of the developers of the cameras Indrek Sünter. Sünter is a junior research fellow at the observatory and a PhD student at the University of Tartu. He stated that for a relatively recent space country, this has been a rare opportunity to educate future engineers and researchers so that they would know the development processes and standards of ESA.
Sünter has made many valuable acquaintances thanks to visiting conferences for ESEO. „One of the most memorable experiences, for sure, has been the introductory course of the project in Italy. We got to communicate with professional space craft engineers and researchers.“
The camera developer stated that being part of the ESEO project has broadened his mind – and not only in the field of space craft. He believes that similar development processes and testing procedures that follow the same kinds of demands and standards are likely to be seen in all industries.
The students of almost every ESA member state have been able to participate in the ESEO mission one way or another. The camera project was the work of 15 students in total, ten of whom were Estonian. Some of the students worked on the project as a part of their internship at Tartu Observatory, four of them – Indrek Sünter, Henri Kuuste, Johan Kütt, and Karoli Kahn – are employees of the observatory.
The supervisors of the ESEO camera project were Observatory Research Fellows Riho Vendt and Tõnis Eenmäe, Engineer Viljo Allik, Professor Mart Noorma, and Silver Lätt from the Estonian Research Council.
ESEO should be ready for take-off in November on a SpaceX Falcon-9 Block 5 vehicle from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
More information can be found on ESA’s homepage.