A New Satellite Is Going to Try to Maintain low Earth Orbit Without Any Propellant

Typically they counteract this force by utilizing little amounts of propellant. However, smaller sized satellites do not have the high-end of adequate propellant to keep them afloat for any period of time. Today a team of students from the University of Michigan has actually introduced a prototype satellite that attempts to survive utilizing a novel method– magnetism.

Video explaining the information of the mission and why its so different from existing propulsion methods.Credit: University of MichiganThat effort led to an unique satellite (or more accurately a set of satellites) that test an even more unique concept– that small enough satellites can use the Earths own electromagnetic field to achieve a little amount of lift.

One of MiTEEs team members, Mayukh Nath, a Computer Engineering trainee, takes an appearance at the model satellite prior to its launch.Credit: Robert Coelius/ Michigan EngineeringOne of the essential laws of electromagnetism is that when an existing exists in an electromagnetic field, the electromagnetic field will put in a force on the conductor consisting of the existing. Because the Earths magnetosphere exists up to LEO, there is also an electromagnetic field present there. MiTEE strategies to use the current in the tether in between its two satellites to press the paired satellites upward and fight against the mix of air drag and gravity that are pulling them down.

MiTEE strategies to utilize the existing in the tether between its 2 satellites to press the paired satellites up and fight versus the combination of air drag and gravity that are pulling them down.

Lead Image Credit: CC0 Public Domain.

Another video from the trainees point of view explaining a few of the challenges they faced with the project.Credit: University of MichiganIt will probably be a few years up until a second system flies, considered that the entire labor force for this job are volunteer university student. In the meantime, they will have plenty of information to parse, and hopefully a major cause for celebration, when MiTEE-1 starts collecting data after a successful launch.

Surviving in space can be stealthily hard. Just ask the characters from Gravity, or any number of the numerous small satellites that fall under the atmosphere in a given year. Any object put in low Earth orbit (LEO) must constantly combat versus the drag triggered by the small number of air molecules that make it approximately that height..

For the very first variation releasing this weekend, referred to as MiTEE-1, there will be a single 1 meter long rigid boom linking the two satellites. It will focus on measuring just how much present, if any, can be caused by the ionosphere, another function of the space right away surrounding Earth. Follow-on tasks would check the tether for use as an actual antenna, and try to determine whether it would be practical to totally float a pico-satellite system without any propellant.

Smaller sized satellites do not have the luxury of adequate propellant to keep them afloat for any duration of time. Now a team of students from the University of Michigan has actually released a model satellite that attempts to stay afloat utilizing a novel method– magnetism.

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The job, understood as the Miniature Tether Electrodynamics Experiment (MiTEE), released today on Virgin Galactics flight from the Mojave Desert. Its interdisciplinary group includes undergraduate through PhD Students at UofM. This is the first project the group has actually launched, and represents the conclusion of six years of effort.

Learn More: UofM– Pioneering a method to keep really small satellites in orbitMiTEE Home PageSmallSat News– U of Michigan Students Keep Very Small Satellites in Orbit with MiTEE CubesatNew Atlas– CubeSat to check harnessing Earths magnetic field for propulsion.

To check this theory, the team has developed a pair of satellites, one about the size of a loaf of bread, the other one the size of a smartphone, that are connected together by means of a period of wire. A current is then induced in that wire, and physics gets to do its magic..

Follow-on jobs would check the tether for usage as an actual antenna, and try to determine whether it would be possible to entirely float a pico-satellite system without any propellant.