• Satellite Name: CP8 (IPEX)
  • School: California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo
  • Mission JPL Autonomous Image Processing
  • Launch Date: December 5th, 2013
  • Comm Frequency: 437.270MHz
  • Modulation: FSK
  • Comm Output Power: ~1 W
  • Project Status: In Orbit: Undergoing Initial Checkout.
    Over 50 packets received. Satellite is nominal.

Project History

  • Collaboration with JPL began in 2012.
  • 1st Balloon Launch of CP8 Balloon Unit: July 28th, 2012
  • 2nd Balloon Launch of CP8 Balloon Unit: December 9th, 2012
  • Launch Date is December, 2013


IPEX is a 1U (10 x 10 x 10 cm) cubesat, funded by NASA’s Earth Science Technology
Office (ESTO), designed to validate onboard instrument processing and autonomous
payload operations for the proposed NASA HYperSPectral Infra-Red Instrument
(HyspIRI) mission.

IPEX carries several low-resolution (3 mega pixels) Omnivision OV3642 cameras as
a stand in for actual science instruments on future NASA missions. These cameras
are capable of acquiring many images (several per minute) over the mission lifetime
providing data to validate onboard processing.

These images will be processed onboard using the Atmel™ primary flight processor
as well as the Gumstix™ Earth Storm instrument processor in order to demonstrate
near continuous onboard instrument processing. The Continuous Activity
Scheduler, Planner Execution and Replanner (CASPER), Specialized onboard
planning software developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute
of Technology, will control the image acquisition and image processing and run on
the Atmel processor.

The IPEX spacecraft and core flight software is developed by California Polytechnic
University at San Luis Obispo. The IPEX spacecraft has solar panels on all six sides
for power generation, three battery packs for power storage, and a custom designed
deployable antenna for communications. Primary communications will be over the
UHF band; the satellite will automatically beacon satellite health data which will be
decodable by the amateur community. After the mission lifespan, the satellite will be
put into digipeter mode for use by amateur operators. The primary flight computer
is a 400MHz Atmel AT91SAM9:ARM9™ with the processor card carrying 128 MB
RAM and a 16GB SD card for data storage. The payload processor is a Gumstix
Earth Storm with 512MB RAM and 512MB flash as well as second 16GB SD card.

The principal elements of the IPEX hardware and flight software have been tested
with two balloon flights 28 July 2012 and 09 December 2012 with approximately
four hours flight time and reaching over 100,000 feet above sea level.

IPEX was launched into Low Earth Orbit on an Atlas V rocket from Vandenberg
Air Force Base in December 5th 2013. After attaining orbit, the IPEX spacecraft self
stabilized using passive magnets mounted in the IPEX structure. After stabilization,
IPEX is commanded from the earth station at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
During the IPEX flight, imaging and image processing requests will be processed
automatically by earth automation software that will develope observation,
processing, and downlink plans from requests and an encoded operations models
without need for human intervention. This automated, web-based operations is a
key part of the IPEX mission.

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