Young scientists aiming high
Maximillian, Tim, Philipp and Stefan have big plans: The students from the vocational school in Leonding, Austria are enthusiastic space explorers and, together with their teacher, have qualified for ESA's national CanSat competition. A CanSat is a "satellite" the size of a beverage can that is designed, built and programmed by teams of students. The mini-satellite is launched by a rocket to an altitude of several hundred meters and then sinks to the ground on a parachute. Throughout its life, the satellite is expected to take measurements and perform specific tasks for which it was designed.
The project will go through the phases as in a real space mission: Planning of the mission, construction of the satellite, testing of the individual components and the overall system, execution of the mission, processing and evaluation of the data, communication of the results.
Two missions must be accomplished by all of the students from all participating nations
The self-built mini-satellite must measure temperature and air pressure and transmit the values to the ground station at least once per second. From the collected air pressure values the actual ejection height and the fall velocity have to be determined. In addition, a temperature profile is generated.
The satellite shall fulfill a self-selected and developed mission. There are no limits to the technical and scientific ingenuity! The starting point can be a scientific question, a technical problem or a project idea of social relevance.
The four young scientists from Austria don't want to miss this challenge either and are already entering the application race at the European Space Agency as Team "CanTaurus" in 2019. Their goal: they want to evaluate the life-friendliness of extrasolar planets. For this purpose, the slime mold Physarum polycephalum is transported in the can satellite and observed with a camera. Even days after the flight. Depending on the conditions that prevailed during the flight, among other things, the slime mold changes color and shape.
For this unusual project, the young scientists asked 2020 Micro-Hybrid for help. In order to investigate the environmental influences on the slime mold, electronics for gas measurement are needed, among other things. Our JSIR350-4 emitter immediately made its way to Austria by mail after the request. The special task: The IR emitter is used for NDIR gas measurement in CANSAT. A small gas chamber is filled with atmospheric gas. At one end of the chamber is the IR emitter - at the other end are 4 gas sensors. By measuring the absorption of the IR light, conclusions can be drawn about the proportions of CO2, CO and CH4.
From April 24-26, 2021, Tim, Phillip, Stefan and Maximillian will compete with their two missions at the national competition in Austria. Should they emerge as winners, they will participate in the European competition in July.
Structure of the CanSat shown graphically
Concentration when programming the technology and evaluating the data
Slime mold Physarum polycephalum
Checking the parachute in preparation for the competition
Competition fact check
- Size: of a beverage can: H 11.5 cm x W 6.6 cm
- Antennas for radio and transmission GPS may be mounted externally
- Cansat must weigh max, 335 g incl. parachute
- Power supply must be by battery or solar system
- Load up to 20G
Basic equipment ESA
- ESA provides all teams with a basic set that largely includes the components needed for the primary mission.
- The central component of the CanSat basic set is a microcontroller board. D
- the task of the participating teams includes designing the electronic circuit, soldering the individual components, and programming the microprocessor.
Evaluation of the teams for additional engagement
- Preparation of a project and financial plan
- Preparation of interim and final reports
- Public relations