Students welcomed on board of ESTCube-2’s development prior to launch
This summer, 11 interns got the chance of perfecting satellite ESTCube-2’s development as next year's launch date approaches. For the first time, the majority of the internships were completed virtually.
“For the students of ESTCube, the current year has been the most challenging in the history of the second satellite’s development. Nevertheless, we saw that students were capable and willing to adapt to the changing environment,” said Jānis Dalbiņš, ESTCube-2 systems engineer and Junior Research Fellow at Tartu Observatory.
The interns came from Estonia, Latvia and India. “As this was the first virtual summer internship, ESTCube was able to attract talented international students, which helped us progress with the development,” Dalbiņš stated.
The areas of development focused on deployable solar-panel structures, communication, power systems, testing pipelines, on-board software, and mission control. Intern Savelii Vorontcov worked on the On-Board Computer System (OBCS). The OBCS connects and controls all the components in the spacecraft. Akin to the central nervous system in a body, all communication moves through it and information is stored locally until it's time to broadcast down to ground control on Earth. Vorontcov said that his goal was to integrate two filesystems into a project. “I had to read a lot of manuals and understand code written by others. It was hard, but I liked it.”
During the internships, the students were not only on a summer break from universities – one of the interns, for example, just graduated from grade nine. Before the internship, he had written code as a hobby. He stated that he did feel as if he was thrown out of his comfort zone at first, but due to that he was able to gain new knowledge and have an experience of working in a team towards a bigger goal. He expressed his wish to continue his studies at the University of Tartu after high school and join the ESTCube team, probably getting the chance to work on the third satellite by then.
ESTCube-2 is being built at Tartu Observatory, where the annual summer internships usually take place. Director of Tartu Observatory Antti Tamm said that if one needs to do something, they will find a way, even at times like these. “I like the lively spirit ESTCubers bring here and the attitude that nothing is impossible, well demonstrated by the ability to arrange such an internship programme quite in the middle of the corona crisis.”
The internship concluded with an interactive webinar. Presenting their summer work and results, the interns knew very well that they directly contributed to the completion of the student satellite.
ESTCube-2 is a technology demonstration platform for the deorbiting technology plasma brake (e-sail) developed by the Finnish Meteorological Institute. Its predecessor ESTCube-1’s mission lifetime was from 2013 till 2015.
ESTCube's Facebook page
ESTCube's Instagram page