The Eirballoon project is part of the NANOSTAR project and the 100th anniversary of the ENSEIRB-MATMECA engineering school, based in Bordeaux (France), partner of the NANOSTAR consortium.

Due to COVID restrictions, the launch has been postponed to January 14th, with a backup date on the 21st, if the weather is bad or the air control is not ok.

During the month of November, a team composed of five students from the ENSEIRB-MATMECA engineering school will launch a sounding balloon to take pictures of Bordeaux from the sky and measure properties of the atmosphere such as temperature, pressure or UV ray level. All these parameters will be sent to the ground in real time using the LoRa protocol and displayed on social media. The balloon will reach about 30 km in altitude and will allow testing hardware (including the Lora module) in space conditions together with the ground station developed within the NANOSTAR project.

This is a great opportunity for the students to apply the skills provided in IoT and electronics.

Nigel IGNATOWICZ, a Master student in electrical engineering at ENSEIRB-MATMECA, is in charge of the radiofrequency link between the sounding balloon and the ground station, the integration of the on-board equipment, and the management of the project.

“I’ve always been passionate by space and all the projects that are related to it. This project was a great opportunity for me to be fully implied in such a project.

I started to work on the Eirballoon project in February and I found it very interesting since the beginning. This was an opportunity to learn a lot of new things and to apply the skills that have been taught to me during my studies at ENSEIRB-MATMECA.

I would like to thank Interreg SUDOE for the great opportunity the NANOSTAR project offered me.”

Nanostar is a 2014-2021 Interreg Sudoe project which allows university students to be part of a whole real space engineer project.

The nanosatellite standard is today used by many universities and companies to attract the best students and engineers, that supports the universities and industries competitiveness.

Several countries from the north of Europe have strongly invested in this approach, creating a commercial offer that has become very well positioned in the market. However, Southern Europe, despite its strong influence in the space sector, has only 14% of the projects in the European nanosatellite sector and no company created in this field.

The construction of a nanosatellite requires numerous tools and competences, which makes it an excellent training vector. However, it is necessary to have the appropriate experience, hence the need to work in a network and exchange experiences.

To support the emergence of such a dynamic environment in the south west of Europe, 7 universities and 2 aerospace clusters from France, Spain and Portugal proposed a collaborative project to link their resources, plus 3 ESA-BIC (Business Incubation Centres of the European Space Agency) as associates.

NANOSTAR: a network of excellence among universities, the regional industry and the scientific ecosystem in order to create a leading platform in Europe on nanosatellites.

The challenge of the project is to provide students with the experience of a real space engineering process that includes all stages, from conception and specifications, to design, assembly, integration, testing and documentation. That is, the whole process through a network that combines high-level engineering careers and entrepreneurial ventures in the area of ​​nanosatellites.

NANOSTAR will allow Southwest Europe to train students with a high level of skills in space engineering and project engineering, so that they are the future main players in the field of nanosatellites.

NANOSTAR will end the 31st of May 2021.

We are glad to inform you that NANOSTAR, the Interreg Sudoe project which allows university students to be part of a whole real space engineer project which includes conception, design, implementation and documentation, will have an eight months project extension, and will end the 31st of May 2021.

Last Monday, February 17, the phase II Detailed Design and Test Challenges online registration was closed.

In this phase, each NANOSTAR institution offered specific challenges on the design, development and testing of nanosatellite components. Some of these challenges were related to components of the winner nanosatellite design of the first preliminary design competition (lunar fly-by), others to nanosatellite testing facilities and there will also be a challenge on the detailed design of a roscoff worms payload, considered in the second edition of the preliminary design competition.

There have been a total of  68 registered students in 22 different challenges.

The NANOSTAR project

NANOSTAR is a collaborative platform to provide a relevant training on nanosat technology through Student Challenges.

The nanosatellite standard is today used by many universities and companies to attract the best students and engineers, that supports the universities and industries competitiveness.

Several countries from the north of Europe have strongly invested in this approach, creating a commercial offer that has become very well positioned in the market. However, Southern Europe, despite its strong influence in the space sector, has only 14% of the projects in the European nanosatellite sector and no company created in this field.

The consortium is composed of 2 aerospace clusters, 7 universities plus 3 ESA-BIC centres as associates, in France, Spain and Portugal.

NANOSTAR project is funded by the Interreg Sudoe Programme through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

 

This year Interreg celebrates its 30th birthday, focusing on three topics of interest for the European cohesion: youth, a greener Europe and we all have a neighbor. In this context, each month, they will interview one of their  emblematic projects related to one of these topics.

We transcribe the interview with Filippo Cichocki, visiting professor at the Carlos III University of Madrid who, together with his colleague Julio Posada Román and the professors José Antonio García Souto and Mario Merino Martínez, coordinate the NANOSTAR Student Challenges.

NANOSTAR offers to university students the possibility of experiencing a real and complete space-engineering process that includes conception, design, assembly and documentation. In teams, students can draft a space mission with a nano-satellite and create parts of it.

  • What role do young people play in your project?

The NANOSTAR project is based on several challenges according to which the role of young people varies. Some challenges are competitive: students register to compete for the preliminary design of a nano-satellite mission. Organized in groups, they design the principal subsystems of nano-satellite in order to accomplish this mission and compete with other groups of students from their same university or from other universities participating in the NANOSTAR project. Moreover, there are other types of challenges, more independent, organized by the universities of the project focusing on the development of a particular technology for nano-satellites. This can be a communications component, a control strategy or a testing platform. Since the project has a wide nature, the activities developed for the challenges vary as well.

  • How important are these challenges for the proper development of the project?

The two types of challenges of the project present significant activities for a space engineer.

On one side, the competitive challenges look like the procedures of the European Space Agency for the selection of promising space-mission proposals that can be financed for the phases of detailed design and finally reach the operational phase. The first challenge was a competitive challenge. Developed between February and May 2019, it consisted of a flyby mission to the moon with a nano-satellite. Counting with the participation of 15 teams, it brought together more than 100 students. The second competitive challenge has just ended and focused on a different mission: a payload mission, with Roscoff worms that allow to recycle CO2 and produce O2, very useful for the development of ECLSS – Environmental Control and Life Support Systems.

On the other side, individual challenges will start in the next weeks and will allow students from each university to advance in concrete skills related to detailed phases of a nano-satellite design. These usually start when the preliminary design of a mission is approved and a space agency, such as the European Space Agency, decides to continue financing these activities. So far, we organized around 30 different challenges among all the universities involved in NANOSTAR project.

  •  Where does the idea of ​​NANOSTAR come from? What is the added value of having young people in this project?

It is a great added value. First, young people interested in this sector are very motivated and have a lot of passion for what they do. Even if they don’t have a very long experience, they are able, with advice, to perform very advanced engineering tasks.

On the other hand, in NANOSTAR, we believe in hands-on education, thanks to which students develop all the competences for their future job as space engineers. In this sense, the nano-satellites presents a clear asset, not just as an educative tool, but also for the intrinsic interest that students develop for this type of industry that in the last years has certainly grown. Finally, and this is the a reason for a SUDOE project, there is a technological gap in South-West Europe of this specific technology and there is no better way to bridge this gap than to bet on the training of young people.

  • What does NANOSTAR provide to the youngsters who participate?

It is a very positive point for your curricula to be able to participate in a public competition for the design of a nano-satellite, financed by the EU and with a strong participation. In addition, the project benefits from experts’ advices of prestigious universities. Participating to these challenges allows students to develop knowledge that may not be developed in an ordinary university course. They can put into practice their knowledge developing a space mission, systems engineering, managing of special projects or in the detailed design of a nano-satellite component, while learning to work in a team with other European students. The challenges teach them to be patient, rigorous, organizing periodic meetings to progress with the design, knowing how to respond to casualties in the team.

  • How do you organize work in universities of different countries?

Each University has its own work culture and their area of expertise, so they complement each other. Generally, the student groups are from the same universities but we also had interuniversity groups. This is very positive because it allows us to evaluate whether it is possible to work as a team from different universities and what difficulties it entails. Obviously, physical distance can be an obstacle, but through the project, we seek to develop common work methodologies. Thus, we develop a common software to design nano-satellites, with the same tools, homogenizing the nano-satellite development process.

  • What is the profile of the students participating?

They are mostly space-engineering students but we count also on students from other disciplines. This is essential because space engineering is totally interdisciplinary. Design involves different fields of knowledge. Thus, for example, electronic, telecommunication engineers but also mathematicians participate.

We also count on a gender mixed participation even if we have not reached yet the desired level of equality: in the last challenge, for example, about 80 people participated, of which approximately 20 were women. This figure is in line with the percentage of women in engineering department of Spanish universities (around 25%).

On the other hand, many universities have student associations dedicated to solving technological problems. We made the most of these by encouraging their participation because they are probably the best candidates since they have very motivated students, with a lot of practical experience and seek to achieve greater visibility. For example, we are developing one of the challenges with the STAR association of the Carlos III University that is dedicated to the development and launching of rockets as platform for the testing of nano-satellite components.

  • How do these types of projects influence the vision that young people have of the EU? How would you encourage young people to participate in the project?


The participation in this kind of networks allow to expose students to the education method of other countries and establish contacts with other similar students in South Europe. We believe that actions like these ones are very positive for foster the youngsters’ sense of belonging in the European Union. They link Europe with opportunities to develop concrete projects.

Without a doubt, NANOSTAR is a great opportunity to put into practice what they are learning in their academic training, work as a team and develop skills to work in the future in a more connected Europe.

Thank you very much Filippo! Do not hesitate to visit the project website and discover everything about space challenges. Also, we invite you to discover the testimonies of Alejandro and David, two students from Carlos III University who participated in the challenges.

 

In this edition, thirteen multidisciplinary teams of students from the NANOSTAR universities have predesigned a nanosatellite space mission, whose goal is to verify the survivability in space of a marine photosymbiotic species of worms (Roscoff worms), which may one day play an essential role in the creation of artificial ecosystems for deep space exploration missions. The scientific payload of the nanosatellite will monitor the metabolism of the worms and their efficiency for air recycling via video observations and measurements.

The total number of registered students has been 82 students (13 teams), although only six teams have managed to deliver the requested work (a design file, a preliminary design report and an oral video presentation) within the competition deadline (January 6th).

The Evaluation Committee, composed of members from all NANOSTAR institutions, thus specially congratulate these teams (Team Bernoulli, nanoMUSE, UPM StarWorms, Wormonauts, UC3M StarWorms and WOSS) for meeting such a strict deadline and for the great quality of the presented work. The evaluation has been made based on the criteria published at the website, which are:

• Compliancy with the top-level requirements of the mission
• Project consistency and physical soundness
• Risk analysis
• Mission performance
• Solution innovativeness
• Document quality
• Presentation quality
• Team management, communication and organization
• Correct usage of NANOSTAR resources, tools, and methodology
• Multidisciplinarity, gender balance, inter-institutionality and use of Nanostar communication tool

FIRST PRIZE. Best Team Ranking Top 3:

1. UC3M StarWorms from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, UC3M (Spain): Álvaro Sanz Casado (team leader), Carlos Álvaro Arroyo Parejo, Miguel Renieblas Ariño, Sergio Sarasola, Miguel Muñoz Lorente.

2. UPM StarWorms from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, UPM (Spain): Gema Aparicio Cantalapiedra (team leader), César Díez Factor, Jonathan Martín Palomo, Fernando Ayape Alonso.

3. nanoMUSE from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, UPM (Spain): Inés Vargas (team leader), David Moreno, Manuel Soto-Aranaz González, Alberto Rodríguez Pérez-Silva, Jaume Fortaleza Llorens.

Best predesign document:

UC3M StarWorms from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, UC3M (Spain): Álvaro Sanz Casado (team leader), Carlos Álvaro Arroyo Parejo, Miguel Renieblas Ariño, Sergio Sarasola, Miguel Muñoz Lorente.

Most innovative mission:

nanoMUSE from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, UPM (Spain): Inés Vargas (team leader), David Moreno, Manuel Soto-Aranaz González, Alberto Rodríguez Pérez-Silva, Jaume Fortaleza Llorens.

Best management practices:

UPM StarWorms from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, UPM (Spain): Gema Aparicio Cantalapiedra (team leader), César Díez Factor, Jonathan Martín Palomo, Fernando Ayape Alonso.

Best oral presentation:

Team Bernoulli from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, UPM (Spain): Tomás Girona Gutiérrez (team leader), Gonzalo Azaña Caro, Daniel Gómez de Antonio, Néstor Martínez Ribera, José Luis Ramírez

Congratulations to the winners and all participating student teams!

All six teams that have submitted their work shall receive an official participation diploma. Additional diplomas shall be awarded to the teams that have won a special prize. The first prize team (UC3M StarWorms) shall be awarded both a laptop/person and the possibility to participate to the international nanosatellites conference 4S Symposium 2020 (Small Satellites Systems and Services) where they can present their mission design. This possibility shall be confirmed in the month of February.

Once again, the Nanostar evaluation committee wishes to thank all participating teams for their effort and for the great quality of the submitted work.

Download the press release here.

UC3M StarWorms from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, (Spain): Álvaro Sanz Casado (team leader), Carlos Álvaro Arroyo Parejo, Miguel Renieblas Ariño, Sergio Sarasola, Miguel Muñoz Lorente.

The Evaluation Committee, composed of members from all NANOSTAR institutions, evaluating the received designs from student teams, and selecting the winning proposal at Bordeaux‐INP / ENSEIRBMATMECA.

This NANOSTAR challenge has consisted in predesigning a nanosatellite that will perform an ambitious scientific mission. The goal of the mission is to verify the survivability in space of a marine photosymbiotic species of worms (Roscoff worms), which may one day play an essential role in the creation of artificial ecosystems for deep space exploration missions. The scientific payload will monitor the metabolism of the worms and their efficiency for urea and air recycling via video observations and measurements.

 

A miniature CubeSat has become the first satellite to perform Galileo-based position fixes in orbit using a commercial satnav receiver.

CubeSats are nanosatellites based on standardised 10 cm-sized units. Originally devised for educational uses, they are nowadays being put to commercial and technology testing uses. The Swiss Astrocast company is assembling a constellation based on 3-unit CubeSats to serve the emerging ‘Internet of Things’.

Vigilant for new initiatives that foster innovation in the field of navigation, ESA navigation researchers supported Switzerland’s ETH Zurich technical university to fly a navigation payload – composed of four low-cost multi-constellation mass-market satnav receiver modules plus two antennas – aboard a test CubeSat.

“This mission has demonstrated the first use of Galileo to perform positioning and timing in orbit supporting precise orbit determination using a commercial product developed for ground users,” explains ESA’s Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) R&D Principal Engineer Roberto Prieto Cerdeira.

“The purpose of this initiative was to demonstrate the capabilities of Galileo in orbit with a small, low-cost, low-power European satnav receiver. This will pave the way for future navigation experimentation, scientific experiments and technology demonstrations of Galileo in orbit with CubeSats and low-cost receivers for scientific activities.

“The navigation payload is also capable of performing position fixes by combining Galileo with the US GPS, Russian Glonass and Chinese BeiDou systems for increased performance.”

ESA R&D navigation engineer Rok Dittrich adds: “The receiver itself was not specially developed and tested for space but is a modified version of a low-cost mass-market product from the Swiss u-blox company. It underwent ground testing emulating its use in space, along with firmware added to take into account the dynamics of low-Earth orbit.”

This opportunity, funded through ESA’s European GNSS Evolution programme, was conceived together with ESA’s Galileo Science Advisory Committee, a group of scientists advising ESA on scientific matters related to Galileo and fostering its scientific exploitation.

This first AstroCast CubeSat was launched in December 2018, and the first results confirming the use of Galileo satellites for positioning were reported at the recent Galileo Science Colloquium in Zurich, typically demonstrating orbital positioning precision down to less than 5 m.

ESA’s Galileo Navigation Science Office and GNSS Evolution are looking into extending this pioneering experience to perform more CubeSat-based experiments in space to test ideas for evolutions of European satnav systems and scientific experiments with Galileo, in partnership with universities and research institutions.

Satnav serving space

Satnav is already widely used by satellites in low-Earth orbit for guidance, navigation and control, relying on the satnav constellations flying above them in medium-Earth orbit. Some telecommunication and weather satellites in higher orbit also make use of the satnav signals flying at lower orbit, with very weak satnav signals from satellites located at the other side of the Earth.

For the future, satnav is a key enabling technology for the safe operation of low-Earth orbit constellations, allowing individual satellites to maintain optimum formation relative to the other constellation members.

ESA and NASA have previously demonstrated Galileo-only and Galileo-GPS fixes from the International Space Station, although using a space-qualified software-based receiver.

ESA is developing dual Galileo-GPS receivers for the next generation of Earth-observing Copernicus Sentinel satellites. The more precise the orbit determination, the more accurate the environmental data that can be returned to Earth.

Combined use of Galileo and GPS signals on an interoperable basis for positioning and precise orbit determination should bring significant advantages for space users in particular, set to provide a seamless navigation capability from low to high Earth orbits – and potentially beyond.

Source: https://www.esa.int/Applications/Navigation/CubeSat_finds_its_way_in_space_with_Galileo_receiver

Last Wednesday, October 30, took place the kick-off meeting of the NANOSTAR Work Package 5 at Universidade da Beira Interior (UBI) in Covilhã , Portugal.

The priority of this Work Package is to ensure the continuity of the NANOSTAR project with the development of new interuniversity projects and support for the creation of new start-ups.

At the end of the meeting, the partners had the opportunity to visit the CDF room facilities.

The University of Beira Interior (UBI) is a public university located in the nice city of Covilhã, Portugal. It was created in 1979, and has about 6,879 students distributed across a multiplicity of graduation courses, awarding all academic degrees in fields ranging from medicine and biomedical sciences to aeronautical engineering to mathematics.

Thanks to the entire team of the Universidade da Beira Interior!!

Today, at UC3M, we presented to students both the re-edition of the preliminary design challenge and the specific UC3M design and test challenges.

The time for great ideas and intuitions has finally come!

Register for both types of challenges here.

 

NANOSTAR is a European project to support the training and development of student nanosatellites in the south west of Europe.

In this phase, each institution of the project will be offering specific challenges on the design, development and testing of nanosatellite components.

NANOSTAR specific design, development and testing challenges start!

In this project phase, each institution will support a large number of different design and testing challenges of nanosatellite components. Some of these challenges are related to components of the winner nanosatellite design of the first preliminary design competition, others to nanosatellite testing facilities, and there will also be a challenge on the detailed design of a Roscoff’s worms payload, which is a key component of the second edition of the preliminary design competition.

How to participate

Students participate to these specific challenges in teams (of any size). The advisor of each student group will be a member of the challenge-hosting institution.

We encourage students to register  and to indicate the specific challenge they are interested in!

At the end of each specific challenge, each team will have to deliver a report, based on the template that can be downloaded here.

Finally, each team will have the opportunity of presenting remotely the challenge work at a final NANOSTAR project event, to be announced soon.

NANOSTAR project

NANOSTAR is a collaborative platform to provide a relevant training on nanosat technology through Student Challenges.

The nanosatellite standard is today used by many universities and companies to attract the best students and engineers, that supports the universities and industries competitiveness.

Several countries from the north of Europe have strongly invested in this approach, creating a commercial offer that has become very well positioned in the market. However, Southern Europe, despite its strong influence in the space sector, has only 14% of the projects in the European nanosatellite sector and no company created in this field.

The consortium is composed of 2 aerospace clusters, 7 universities plus 3 ESA-BIC centres as associates, in France, Spain and Portugal.

NANOSTAR project is funded by the Interreg Sudoe Programme through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).