BIRDY-T : near-asteroid autonomous operations

(report 2017)

BIRDY-T is a navigation technology for future "deep-space" CubeSats. It merges the BIRDY and QBDIM projects already supported by ESEP since 2014. On the ground, a trajectory is predicted with the help of a trajectory calculator, that can model complex gravitational fields (IMCCE expertise). The difference between the predicted and actual flight path is estimated to be better than 100 km for interplanetary cruise. The algorithm will be tested on an LESIA flight software bench. The CubeSat must calculate its trajectory corrections alone to follow the flight strategy. Our partner NCKU from Taiwan brings in its PPT micro-propulsion solution, and a PSL-supported PhD student can adapt it as needed.

(Various free fall scenarios near the asteroid Didymos : case study for the AIM 2022 mission/ ESA)

The initial technological goal is to create a complete engineering bench that can be used for various applications : near-asteroid operations, cruising, formation flying, constellations. Planetary geodesy is the first targeted application, by sampling a double asteroid, thus repeating the idea of ​​QBDIM. The Earth-Mars travel context of BIRDY remains the reference of the cruising need.

The team includes people from the IMCCE, LESIA, and our partners NCKU and ODYSSEUS in Taiwan. It also involves many students : a total of 64 from L3 to PhD. Eight long internships and trips were funded though ESEP and the environment, network and experts were brought in through C²ERES.

Contact : Marco Agnan m.agnan @

For 2017-2018 : 1 or 2 long duration modules (1-2 years), 1 or 2 long internships (4-6 month) for system, orbit dynamics or optical bench.

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CIRCUS : probing Earth’s ionosphere

(report 2017)

CIRCUS is a mission of exploration of the E/F layers of the terrestrial ionosphere, focusing on Space Weather. The main scientific goal is to measure the local parameters of the ionospheric plasma (density and electron temperature) in stitu and with high temporal resolution (a few milliseconds). These measurements will be accomplished using the radio spectroscopy method of quasi-thermal plasma noise in the frequency range 10kHz-20MHz.

The radio spectral observations that are the core of the mission will be carried out using a new generation receiver. In that sense, the CIRCUS project has an important technical goal and will allow experimentation of digital radio spectrometer architecture. This will be at the centre of the future instrument proposals by members from LESIA around the themes of solar and planetary space radio astronomy.

In addition, with this project the concepts and technologies for future low frequency radio interferometers can be tested (CNES NOIRE study, Dutch OLFAR project, Swedish FOAM project, 3 NASA / SMex projects submitted in 2016).

Finally, CIRCUS has important educational goal. The project is mainly carried out by students from various institutions (Observatoire de Paris, University Pierre and Marie Curie, Télécom-ParisTech and other potential partners) under the supervision of engineers and scientists from LESIA, who bring the experience of space instrumentation development to the table, which essential to the success of the mission.

Contact : Didier Tiphaine (project lead), didier.tiphene @

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GPU4SPACE : GPU space qualification

(report 2016)

The main goal of the project is to evaluate the level of maturity of GPU technology for space missions. The assessment focuses on the core components of the mission design and on the use of an accelerator for data processing and interpretation.

The R&D component of the project, mainly funded through ESEP, focuses on the qualification of the component for the space environment, particularly in the context of nano-satellite technology. This is to validate the proper operation of a GPU when shipped under conditions similar to those undergone in orbit. Thermal cycling and radiation exposure tests are conducted as well as test on electrical consumption and heat dissipation. At the same time, target missions must be identified and a corresponding test plan developed in collaboration with the scientific or technical teams responsible for the other subsystems. Thanks to the support through ESEP, the first qualifying tests were carried out, including the validation of the thermal cycling component and the first irradiation tests. The implementation of a first step of a data processing "pipeline" was done using the example of sharpening images taken from the orbit. A study of the characteristics of this pipeline, in terms of computing performance and energy consumption, is underway.

Contact : damien.gratadour @

For 2016-2017 : two internships of 4-6 months at the M1-M2 level, long duration projects modules (150-300h/student, individual or team) are foreseen on application.

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METEORIX : analysing the composition of meteoroids.

(report 2017)

The Earth’s atmosphere is a formidable detector of small objects or extraterrestrial solid particles, called meteoroids. Meteoroids heat up and ionize in the upper atmosphere, producing a meteor. The aim of the Meteorix nanosatellite student project is to observe and detect meteors in order to measure their magnitude and estimate the flow of meteoroids arriving on Earth. The detection of meteors from space is an essential asset to overcome weather conditions on the surface, and to cover a wide area of ​​the sky. This student nanosatellite project is developed at UPMC (CSE CurieSat) and is supported by CNES under the JANUS program. The two space campuses CurieSat and C2ERES are joining forces here to pool resources and promote the development of student nanosatellite projects. The main laboratories involved in the project are : IMCCE, LIP6, LATMOS, the Faculty of Physics, the Faculty of Engineering and the UFR Earth, Environment and Biodiversity of the UPMC. Funding of trainees and operation in the initial phases of the project has been supported through ESEP. In this and the following phases, the financing of prototypes and the pooling of resources can also be supported through ESEP.

Contact : Dimitri Galayko (project lead), dimitri.galayko @

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NANOPOT : mastering nanosatellite electrical potentials.

(report 2015)

The funding obtained from ESEP made it possible to carry out a series of tests on the variation of the electrical potential of a nano-satellite when a Langmuir probe is in operation. These tests took place in October 2015 in the ONERA JONAS set-up. It was necessary to mechanically and electronically adapt the emission device for a CubeSat. The team involved was able to perform five days of tests using JONAS.

During these tests, three types of experiments were carried out :

  • the test of the OML (Orbital Motion Limited) theory with respect to the length of the Langmuir probes ;
  • the operation of the electron emitter in a plasma cage ;
  • the operation of Langmuir probes on a CubeSat and the impact of electron emission on the measurement.

For now, only steps 1 and 2 have been successfully completed. Step 3 requires data analysis work that has not yet been done. The main conclusions at this stage are that :

  • the tests of the OML theory confirm the role of the length of the probe ;
  • the electron emitter emitted for several hours without difficulty and with very good performance (emission of a few tens of μA for a power consumption of less than 8 mW with a variation of less than 5%).

Contact : François Leblanc, Francois.Leblanc @

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OGMS-SA : a space-based astro-chemical experiment

(report 2016)

OGMS-SA is a student project to develope a 3U CubeSat technological demonstrator.

This CubeSat has 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, to energy, attitude centre and board computer ;
  • Develop a payload demonstrating the feasibility of the spatialisation of a CRDS (Cavity Ring Down Spectrometer) of high scientific interest for future space missions in Exo-Biology.

The OGMS-SA project is supported through CNES via the JANUS project and is carried at the University Paris-Est Créteil at the LISA laboratory. CNES mainly finances hardware and the launch of the CubeSat. Participation of students in the project via internships is mainly supported through ESEP.

This project started in 2013 and should be completed in 2017.

Contact : Tristan Allain Tristan.Allain @

For 2016-2017 : 3 - 5 long internships.

OGMS-SA in orbit

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PICSAT : observing the transit of exoplanet β-Pictoris b

(report 2017)

β Pictoris b is a young still forming planet at only 19.3 parsecs from the Sun and therefore the closest that we know of. With an age of only 20 million years, it is a perfect object of study for understanding the formation mechanism of giant planets. Because the system is seen edge-on, there is a unique possibility that the planet transits in front of its star. It is a rare event, taking place only once every 18 years. This transit could take place during the end of 2017, with an uncertainty of three months. The PICSAT project is a dedicated space-based photometric observatory to observe this unique object. The launch of PicSat is scheduled for December 2017.

Go here to see videos about PICSAT.

JPEG - 23.7 ko
(β-Pictoris in the infrared. Credits : ESO/A.-M. Lagrange et al.)

Contact : Vincent Lapeyrere (project lead) vincent.lapeyrere @

See also : PICSAT website

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SERB, precursor for solar variability monitoring.

(report 2017)

SERB is a nanosatellite dedicated to Sun-Earth relations. From funding provided by ESEP in 2016-2017, we have made great progress to the SERB architecture (platform and payload) : scientific specification, mission analysis, consolidation of requirements. We have translated the scientific requirements into technical requirements. We focused on the mechanism of deployment of the solar panels. Our work also consisted of studying the different chains of the platform, its pre-dimensioning using off the shelf components, the SERB attitude control system, orbit calculations in order to envisage the modes of operation of the satellite, the mission scenario and the liaison reports.

With regard to the payload, the various instruments of the payload (a radiometer, a photometer, IR detectors, a camera) were analysed, with a detailed study on the solar radiometer, and the implementation of thermal control. In addition, we are also testing materials on paint-coated controls to verify the optical properties of these coatings.

A paper was written with the students and the work was presented at the 67th International Congress of Aeronautics (IAC67).

Contact : Mustapha.Meftah @

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