TAU plans to launch Nanosatellite, hopes to help make 'civilian space'

The satellite will collect data using antennas, and transmit them for analysis to the TAU station, which is built on top of the university's engineering building.

TAU hopes that in the future, most people could launch satellites into space (photo credit: TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY)
TAU hopes that in the future, most people could launch satellites into space
(photo credit: TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY)
Tel Aviv University has built and launched a nanosatellite, designed to measure cosmic radiation in space.
The nanosatellite, called TAU-SAT1, was devised, developed, assembled and tested at the new Nanosatellite Center, an interdisciplinary endeavor of the faculties of Engineering and Exact Sciences and the Porter School of the Environment and Earth Sciences. Its dimensions are roughly 10 cm. by 10 cm. by 30 cm. – the size of a shoe box – and it weighs less than 2.5 kg.
The satellite will collect data using antennas, and transmit them for analysis to the TAU station, which is built on top of the university's engineering building.
"We know that that there are high-energy particles moving through space that originate from cosmic radiation," said Dr. Meir Ariel, director of the university's Nanosatellite Center. “Our scientific task is to monitor this radiation, and to measure the flux of these particles and their products."
"It should be understood that space is a hostile environment, not only for humans but also for electronic systems," he said. "When these particles hit astronauts or electronic equipment in space, they can cause significant damage,"
"The scientific information collected by our satellite will make it possible to design means of protection for astronauts and space systems," Meir said. "To this end, we incorporated a number of experiments into the satellite, which were developed by the Space Environment Department at the Soreq Nuclear Research Center."
The satellite will also serve as a space relay for amateur radio stations around the world. This is also part of the goal for such nanosatellites, which is to take part in the "new space" revolution, where space will be open not only to governments and companies, but also to civilians.
"We are seeing a revolution in the field of civilian space," said Prof. Colin Price, one of the academic heads of the new center.  "We call this 'new space' as opposed to the 'old space' where only giant companies with huge budgets and large teams of engineers could build satellites.
"As a result of miniaturization and modulation of many technologies, today universities are building small satellites that can be developed and launched in less than two years, and at a fraction of the budget in the old space," Price continues. "We have just completed the building of Tel Aviv University's first nano-satellite, and it is ready for launch."
The satellite is expected to remain operational for several months before it will begin losing speed due to atmospheric drag, which will cause it to burn in the atmosphere and return to the earth as star dust.
However, since the infrastructure surrounding launching such a project has been built, a new TAU-SAT2 will begin development shortly. The hope is that in the future, any researcher or student – or even people from outside the university – will be able to launch experiments into space, even without being an expert in the field.