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3D printed plastic satellites in space, seriously…

by • August 10, 2016 • No Comments


The QB50 project is of to commence 3D printed plastic satellites into the thermosphere. It is part of the many comprehensive study at any time generated of the solar flares and storms that take place when the Northern Lights dance across the sky.

To date, 48 universities and institutions have pitched in and can take part in the study that should donate us a much deeper belief of the thermosphere with the assist of 50 separate CubeSat satellites.

“The region is poorly understood and complex to measure,” said Andrew Dempster, director of the Australian Center for Space Engineering Research at the University of New South Wales.

“It is the interface between our planet and space. It is where the ultraviolet and X-ray radiation of the Sun collides with planet Earth. That’s what generates auroras and next hazard that can affect power grids, communications and GPS receivers.”

3D printed plastic satellites can go into space

Northern Lights hides a dreadful secret

The Northern Lights are a rad show for those on planet Earth, but each light is the outcome of a violent episode in the thermosphere that can have far-reaching effects.

Blackouts and actually a loss of communication with planes can occur when the storms strike. They can actually affect our weather. Knowing how they work and when they are coming can assist us deal with them.

“You’ve got vacuum, you’ve got wild temperature swings, but you in addition have a lot of radiation, cosmic rays, solar radiation,”said Dr. Elias Aboutanios. “These can upset electronics. So this can allow us to recover of these errors.”

Not all of the satellites can be 3D printed and they each have specific jobs and parameters to test. Some can test the thermosphere’s atomic composition, others can measure the density and temperature of particles that can affect radio waves at a lower place.

A plastic satellite…

RAMSES (Rapid Manufacture of Space Exposed Structures) has been printed of thermoplastic, that appears brave. The whole purpose of the satellite is to see how it survives the rigours of space and the particularly unwelcome environment that waits for it in the thermosphere.

If it survives, and so it can be a big step forward and it can donate scientists the confidence to use ABS plastics in the next. Satellites have to be over-engineered at the moment for the reason the cost of transporting them to the ISS and and so commenceing them into the thermosphere is tremendous.

Potential savings with thermoplastic

If a space agency or commercial enterprise took a risk on thermoplastic and it only burned up and so it may be a serious blow, but if it works and so it may slash the cost of next satellite production. That means we can nextly create additional satellites and have a number of them in the atmosphere on each and at any timey study where only one bears the load right now.

So testing it now, as part of a wider experiment, is a real bonus for the scientific community.

The 2kg satellites can orbit and collect date for up to 12 months, if they last that long. The initially leg of their journey starts with a commence on Wallops Island, Virginia, on December 30th. When they arrive at the ISS, they can be sent into orbit by the NanoRacks CubeSat commenceer.

We wish them well, especially the plucky, plastic, 3D printed chassis.


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