ASTRA

CubeSat Technologies

CubeSat Technologies

MINIATURIZED SPACE-SCIENCE SYSTEMS
Let us connect your next big idea with engineering reality in a small CubeSat package that fits comfortably inside your budget.

ASTRA helps our customers utilize low cost access to space by providing innovative CubeSat sensors and subsystems, engineering robust CubeSat system-designs based on your measurement and scientific needs, and providing in-depth mission analysis to ensure mission success and scientific closure.

ASTRA SmallSat Capabilities Datasheet »

CubeSat Missions

DICE

CUBESATSASTRA, in collaboration with Utah State University/Space Dynamics Lab (USU/SDL) and Embry Riddle and funded by NSF CubeSat and NASA ELaNa programs, is leading the science analysis of the Dynamic Ionosphere CubeSat Experiment (DICE) mission. The mission focus is the characterization of Storm Enhanced Densities (SEDs) in the ionosphere, and the detection of Field-Aligned Currents (FACs) at high latitudes.

DICE consists of two identical 1.5U CubeSats (named “Yahtzee” and “Farkle”) deployed simultaneously from a single NASA P-POD deployer into the same orbit. Each satellite, which is about half the size of a loaf of bread, carries:

  • Two Langmuir probes to measure in-situ ionospheric plasma densities
  • Both science and attitude magnetometers
  • Four electric field probes on 5-meter cable booms

Despite attitude-control anomalies which prevented the e-field booms from deploying, the DICE CubeSats are a scientific pathfinder in terms of measuring electric fields from a distributed set of spacecraft in Low-Earth Orbit. Lessons learned in trouble-shooting are providing valuable input into implementation of next-generation designs.

The DICE CubeSats have achieved science data downlinks unprecedented in previous CubeSat missions.


DIME

ASTRAASTRA is committed to providing customers with solutions that meet or exceed their scientific and operational goals in cost-effective ways.

The Double-probe Instrumentation for Measuring Electric-fields (DIME) is a 1.5U CubeSat solution for monitoring electric fields in Low-Earth Orbit. Currently being designed for the Air Force in collaboration with USU/SDL to exceed IORD-2 thresholds, this prototype addresses the need for an inexpensive and robust space-weather monitor that meets requirements for specification and forecasting. Measurements include:

  • Ion-density
  • AC and DC electric fields
  • Magnetic fields

Implementing lessons-learned from the DICE project, DIME will provide the first-ever capability for measuring electric fields and monitoring critical space-weather effects on the ionosphere from a CubeSat. Cost reduction/benefits include:

  • Available launches as secondary payloads
  • Enabling the flight of constellations of satellites

Affordable flight of constellations of CubeSats can, for the first time, adequately resolve the spatial and temporal variability in the ionosphere.


CubeSat Instrumentation

Topside Sounder

ASTRA’s CubeSat innovations continually strive to meet compatibility requirements for small platforms. Historically, orbiting topside sounders have been large, expensive, and power-hungry. For platforms as small as 15cm x 10cm x 10cm, CubeSat-compatible instrumentation must be low-weight, miniature in size, and low in power consumption.

ASTRA is working with USU/SDL to develop a CubeSat-compatible sounder which will enable topside measurements of the ionosphere and provide critical data over the oceans from a constellation of CubeSats.


THOR Winds

ASTRA is working with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to design, build, and test a miniaturized neutral wind instrument to measure vector winds in Low Earth Orbit(LEO) under all solar and magnetic conditions. The 2.06 THz Oxygen-line Radiometer (THOR) will provide critical neutral-wind information in the mesosphere and lower thermosphere from a CubeSat. This robust and compact instrument provides comprehensive spatial measurements currently not afforded by any in-situ measurement technique. Benefits/applications include:

  • Understanding and predicting satellite drag as a result of vector winds
  • Ionospheric instabilities
  • Gravity wave filtering in the upper atmosphere
  • Vertical profiling of neutral winds

UV Imager

ASTRA is leading a collaborative team developing a system capable of providing night-time images of the ionosphere from a 6U CubeSat. Called SIPS (Scanning Ionospheric Photometer System), it integrates the CTIP photometer with a scanning mirror enabling almost continuous monitoring of the night-side ionosphere. SIPS will be able to monitor features such as plasma irregularities which can have deleterious effects on satellite positioning and HF communications.  ASTRA and its partners will deliver a prototype SIPS unit to the Air Force at the end of 2014.


DIME E-fields

The Double-probe Instrumentation for Measuring Electric–fields (DIME) is an instrument capable of measuring electric fields inside of a CubeSat platform.  The instrument includes a novel mechanism which deploys two orthogonal sets of 10-meter (tip-to-tip) cable-booms.  Developed for ASTRA and the Air Force customer by USU/SDL, ASTRA is in charge of marketing the instrument and analyzing instrument data to produce scientifically and operationally useful results.


Attitude Control Solutions

ADCS BoardASTRA provides CubeSat attitude modeling services and products:

    • Mission and system design of small-satellite and CubeSat platforms
    • Simulating operational scenarios
    • Specifying the interaction between ground-systems commanding and satellite power-systems
    • Simulating functionality of attitude operations and CubeSat pointing requirements

Developed from our experience with the DICE and DIME CubeSat missions, this 2-axis spin-stabilized control board provides an affordable yet robust solution for meeting CubeSat pointing requirements.

Our mission is to provide simple, robust, and cost-effective CubeSat solutions.

Versatile Compact Avionics Board datasheet »

ASTRA SmallSat Capabilities Datasheet »