The team get the award for the best project

Elise Fournier-Bidoz, Fredrik Orstadius, Sophie Wohlgemuth



In the context of Ecole Centrale Paris’s "Innovation Projects" 2016 (Centrale-Supelec), the team working on the BIRDY technology was declared one of the three wining groups by the school’s jury. The team was composed of two French students, Elise Fournier-Bidoz and Sophie Wohlgemuth, and a Swedish student, Fredrik Orstadius, from Chalmers University of Technology.

Elise Fournier-Bidoz, CentraleSupelec

The year begins with a visit to the Observatory of Meudon organised by our client, Boris Segret. We immediately became passionate about the subject. We had to implement a PowerCalculator for the BIRDY CubeSat, which is a complex program that must estimate the energy stored in the satellite’s batteries, taking into account many factors such as the potential eclipses on its trajectory or even the aging of its batteries.

In addition to the technical and scientific challenge, we particularly appreciated the professionalism of the project. It was very rewarding to work on an international project, in collaboration with the teams from Ecole Centrale Lille and NCKU University in Taiwan. In February, Boris invited us to participate in a workshop. It was an unprecedented experience, the opportunity to witness the birth of an international project, to understand how the different actors collaborated with each other, to meet and discuss with top scientists from around the world.

A key factor in the success of the project was certainly the perfect understanding among the team members. We operated as an engaged and well balanced trio. Constant work, as well as a flexible effort by everyone, resulted in a positive and effective group dynamic. In addition, the mutual help in moments of technical difficulty was essential in the progress of our work. We still recognize that having a tight team is great, but having a client involved is even better ! Without a client who was so present and with whom we communicated on a regular basis, we would never have been able to get this far. Boris was able to redirect us at moments we lost track and give us the means to move forward by taking the time to explain things to us.

Fredrik Orstadius, CentraleSupelec

At the beginning of our project I remember trying to reassure myself by saying “it’s not rocket science”. Although I knew it wasn’t rocket science in the literal sense, I sensed that for someone like me, who had never done anything similar, it just as well could have been.

Despite all the challenges we encountered along the way when trying to create a "power calculator" for a Cubesat, we finally were able to succeed. In my opinion this fact in itself is a testimony both to the high educational standard of our school, Centrale Paris, and to the incredible drive and will of the Observatory of Paris to see this project through.

Maybe most importantly however, it shows that the infinite curiosity and fascination for space is as alive and well as it has ever been. This curiosity not only spans all nationalities (demonstrated by our multi-cultural group and by the collaboration between French and Taiwanese universities) but also all ages, from us younger students to the more experienced judges who chose to award our power calculator first place among all innovation projects in the school.



Hao-Chih "Jim" Lin, NCKU

At the first time I heard the news that our department, National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan, was holding an international collaboration with Observatory of Paris on the CubeSat project BIRDY, a Mars mission, I realized it is a rare opportunity to participate in space research program. Hence, starting from the third year at University, I joined the team and was in charge of analyzing and designing the preliminary configuration of ADCS. In view of interplanetary cruising requirement of BIRDY, I had been trying to use different control policy (e.g. PID or Backstepping with least-norm algorithm to control thrusters) to change the attitude of CubeSat with minimum consuming of propellent.

After graduation, I became the first NCKU student to be an intern at Observatory of Paris. During the 4-month internship, I developed the initial version of DOCKS (Design & Operation Cross-checKing Services), which is a high level software integration GUI program. It provides scientists a free and open-source interface (like a simple version of STK) to handle phase 0 CubeSat mission analysis in easy and quick way.

These valuable experiences gave me the chance to work with great international team members and expanding my horizon of space science/technology. Additionally, the duration of internship at Observatory of Paris makes me get familiar with the French engineering culture which helps me a lot for my following French Master application and also becomes one of the most impressive memories in my mind.

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At Jim’s defence, from left to right : Didier Tiphène (CIRCUS), Jim LIN (BIRDY, DOCKS), Jordan Diby (BIRDY), Gary Quinsac (BIRDY), Boris Segret (BIRDY, DOCKS), Lester David (PICSAT)




Tobias Flecht, University of Lulea (Sweden)

Within the framework of C²ERES the Observatory of Paris gives students the opportunity to work on CubeSat missions. As a student of the Master course in Space Science and Technology at the Technical University of Lulea in Sweden, I decided to write my master thesis in this exciting and innovative field of space engineering. In February 2016 I arrived at the Observatory of Paris – a place with a long heritage in space science - to join the team around Didier Tiphene to work on the pre-studies of the future nanosatellite CIRCUS.

CIRCUS is one of the satellites within the framework of C²ERES. The mission of this new three unit cubesat is the examination of a layer of charged particles in the earth’s atmosphere – the ionosphere. During its operation in space every satellite experiences various extreme environmental conditions. Those conditions are mainly characterized by the absence of a surrounding atmosphere (the vacuum), a particle stream coming from the sun (the solar wind) and the radiation emitted by the sun as well as the planets. This type of radiation is not linked to any kind of radioactivity, but to the transfer of heat in the infrared and ultraviolet area of the frequency spectra. Also the CIRCUS nanosatellite will be influenced by this radiation, which will affect the temperature of the spacecraft.

My personal mission within the project is to execute simulations concerning this thermal aspect of the space environment and its influence on the satellite as well at its various subsystems. This is a critical step during the development of a space mission, since every part of the satellite has to be operated in a certain temperature range in order to avoid malfunction or destruction. The temperatures within the satellite depend on several aspects, which have to be taken into account during the simulations. Besides the satellites altitude and its attitude, also its geometrical configuration and the material properties of every single part are elementary. But simulations alone are not reliable and have to be verified. The verification of the theoretically derived values is achieved by thermal tests with real parts of the satellite.

Due to my studies at different universities I am used to the interaction and cooperation with people from different countries. However, my time in France is special, because it is the first time for me to actually work abroad. Being part of such a welcoming and supportive team made outset of my own work possible. I enjoy my time working at the Paris observatory, which offers an innovative and open minded environment to specialise further in my chosen topic of studies.

(simulation with Thermica provided with friendly support of Airbus Defence and Space)


Tristan Allain, OSAE master student

Tristan Allain, OSAE master student, participated in the OGMS-SA, project and was consequently employed as an engineer at LISA on the MOMA-GC instrument for the’ESA Exomars 2020 mission.

OGMS-SA is a CubeSat 3U student project for a technological demonstrator with two main goals :

  • Pedagogical platform allowing students from all engineering professions to work in a project team and to design a complete 3U CubeSat from structure to communication through energy, attitude center and board computer ;
  • Demonstrating the feasibility of a space bourne version of a Cavity Ring Down Spectrometer (CRDS) useful for exobiological research.

The OGMS-SA project is supported by CNES through the JANUS project. It is further carried out at the LISA laboratory of the Université Paris -Est Créteil. The CNES mainly finances the hardware and the launch of the CubeSat. ESEP funds the trainee teams involved in the project. This project started in 2013 and should be completed in 2017.

Each of the participating students brings different experience and skils to the team necessary for the realisation of the satellite. Within this space project and its successive phases, students are confronted with organisational difficulties in addition to the technical and scientific problems to which they must respond. In addition to technical knowledge, professionalism of the student is developed through the learning of effective methods of management, contacts with the European initiators of the project, or with the commercial partners for the supply of parts, materials or components.

Tristan Allain took on the role of "System Engineer" within this team. He had to ensure a good dialogue between the different student specialists involved in the study of a specific subsystem of the satellite, be in constant interaction with all the students, manage the common elements, define interfaces between components and participate in their design. He also had to perform synthesis work through the development of global system budgets, collecting data from each to verify the adequacy of the proposed solution with the specifications and constraints of the mission.

The OSAE Master provided him with the necessary training for this task, which integrates different areas such as mechanics, thermal, autonomy related to attitude control, communications or electronics.
The acquisition of all these analytical, practical and theoretical skills allowed him to ensure the phases of analysis, design, and tests and realisation of this project that he qualifies as "motivating and rewarding".

He was integrated as a civil engineer in the technical department of LISA.



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