09.01.2019

Satellite from AGH UST will take photos of Internet users into space


Model of KRAKsat satellite; photo by KRAKsat

Students of KRAKsat team and their satellite; photo by KRAKsat

Collecting photos that will be taken into space by the satellite KRAKsat, designed and built at the AGH University of Science and Technology, has begun. In the coming week, star lovers will be able to submit their photos through social media sites and the project website. 

Inside the satellite, whose developers are AGH UST students, there will be a small memory card which will contain the photos of participants who are interested in the project. In order to win a “ticket” into space, three conditions need to be fulfilled: a photo with a space motif which needs to be published on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with the hashtags #LECEWKOSMOS and #KRAKSAT. The users who are not keen on the social media sites will be able to submit their photos with the use of an online form on the project website www.lecewkosmos.pl. Photos can be submitted by 16th January 2018.  

The satellite, which weighs less than 1.5 kg, will first be taken into space by an Antares 230 rocket to the low Earth orbit, and then on board of the Cygnus spacecraft it will reach the hands of the astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS). In the next phase of the project, the device will be launched into open space. 

The main task of KRAKsat is to test the behaviour of ferrofluid (i.e. liquid magnet) in space.  The developers of the project intend to test the use of the substance as a liquid flywheel that would allow to decrease the rotational speed of a satellite. Inhibiting the rotations created at the moment of releasing it from a rocket or satellite can counteract damages to research equipment on board of space probes. In order to confirm a positive effect of the solution, in the conditions of no gravity the constructors will put ferrofluid into rotary motion in the direction opposite to the rotating satellite. If the experiment is successful, the liquid will change the rotational speed of the satellite. It can be said that thanks to it, the orbiter will slow down or will be brought into a stop. 

The first Krakow satellite will also perform other measurements: temperature, magnetic field, and luminous intensity. During that time, it will have to cope with extreme condition in the ionosphere, such as a large amplitude of temperatures (from −170°C to 110°C), low pressure, microgravity, and ionised gasses. After a year of continuous measurements and experiments, the probe will lose velocity and burn down in the Earth’s atmosphere. 

KRAKsat is a project carried out jointly by the students of AGH UST and the Jagiellonian University. It is also one of the first in Poland satellites of the Cubesat type, and the first in the world satellite that will use magnetic fluid to control orientation. 

Details related to collecting photos can be found on the website http://www.lecewkosmos.pl, and more information about the project can be found on http://www.kraksat.pl.