Science & Technology

NASA tests satellite components developed by Mexican researchers

Mexico City, Jun 21 (EFE).- NASA recently tested an experimental module developed by Mexican researchers that is to be part of future satellites to be used in studying the ionosphere, the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) said Monday.

Members of the academic community of UNAM and the National Polytechnic Institute of Mexico (IPN) participated along with other Mexican and foreign institutions in developing components that were tested in a June 8 suborbital flight, Mexico City-based UNAM said in a bulletin.

The performance of the UNAM- and IPN-developed Experimental Module for Iterative Design for Satellite Subsystems (EMIDSS-2) was tested in the stratosphere, the layer of the Earth’s atmosphere that starts just above the troposphere and extends to a height of 50 kilometers (31 miles).

Rafael Prieto Melendez, the leader of UNAM’s team of experts, said the EMIDSS-2 was carried into the stratosphere by one of NASA’s suborbital platforms.

The mission was conducted as part of NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility program.

“The system we developed was mounted on one of these platforms and the flight occurred (on June 8),” Prieto Melendez said, adding that the balloon took off from Fort Sumner, New Mexico, and reached a maximum altitude of 36 km above sea level.

The Mexican module was carried along with equipment developed at two United States universities, as well as one developed by NASA, he said.

He said the EMIDSS-2 is being used to conduct near-space (between 20 km and 100 km above sea level) tests of technologies that later will be integrated into scientific satellites, which in turn must be evaluated in vacuum, extreme temperature and cosmic radiation conditions.

The mission was initially scheduled to take place a year ago but was suspended due to the pandemic.

After that interruption, the UNAM and IPN researchers decided to modify their initial plan to develop a model of a CubeSat-type satellite with drop-down solar panels, one very similar to a real satellite, the UNAM bulletin said.

Instead, they opted for a similar – but more compact and fully integrated – system that featured an on-board computer, temperature, humidity, environmental pressure and electromagnetic radiation sensors, an Inertial Measurement Unit, a magnetometer and solar panels and which functioned automatically with an on and off switch.

“The final objective is to develop CubeSat-type space research satellites that can be placed in orbit. In particular, this platform is part of what we call the TEPEU space program, which consists of developing satellites to study the ionosphere (the ionized part of Earth’s upper atmosphere) and link the phenomena that occur there to geophysical events that occur at ground level,” Prieto Melendez said. EFE


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