ExoCube Gets Integrated into a PPOD

ExoCube has been delivered!

The ExoCube (CP10) flight model pictured below was delivered to CubeSat for the ELaNa X mission with SMAP. The PPOD with the integrated satellite has passed acceptance testing and will soon be mounted to the rocket.  SMAP will launch in a few months from Vandenberg Air Force Base atop a Delta II.

Exocube is a combined effort of Scientific Solutions, Cal Poly, NASA Goddard, The National Science Foundation, University of Illinois and University of Wisconsin.

ExoCube will characterize [O], [H], [He], [N2], [O+], [H+], [He+], [NO+], and total ion density by taking in-situ measurements within the exosphere, while taking particular interest in orbital locations above various radio observatories.  ExoCube uses an active control system to point itself in the desired direction for measurements, and uses passive control to maintain this orientation.

ExoCubeInt1_half ExoCubeInt2_half

Bill Nye Visits Lab For LightSail Testing

The PolySat/CubeSat lab was visited by a special guest this week. Bill Nye, CEO of the Planetary Society, stopped by Cal Poly to meet with members of the LightSail CubeSat team. LightSail, a 3U CubeSat sponsored by the member-funded organization, has the mission to deploy a 32 square meter solar sail while in orbit. The goal of the visit was to view a deployment test of the solar sail. Unfortunately there were issues that have now pushed back the deployment test to a later date. In addition to hosting the deployment test, the Cal Poly team will be providing environmental testing support in preparation for launch, and operations through the Earth Station after launch. LightSail-A is planned for launch in 2015 and will be used to prove out the design, however solar sailing won’t be attempted until LightSail-B is launched, currently planned for April 2016 on the SpaceX Falcon Heavy.

New Ground Station Taking Shape

In order to better communicate with our spacecraft we are building our third ground station on the Cal Poly campus. This new ground station will feature quad phased yagi antennas with ability to transmit up to 1.5KW. The new system will be using the Cal Poly developed systemboard as our radio. It will also feature automatic pass operations.  We recently began construction of the new groundstation on the roof of building 192 with hopes of finishing by the end of the summer.

Electrical engineering students Jeff Weaver, Jimmy Tang, Kristina Forystek, and Joe Fitzpatrick helping to erect the new ground station base.

Electrical engineering students Jeff Weaver, Jimmy Tang, Kristina Forystek, and Joe Fitzpatrick helping to erect the new ground station base.

ExoCube Pushing Forward!

A particularly exciting and educational aspect of PolySat’s comprehensive production process is the design and in-house manufacturing of various structural components.  ExoCube, PolySat’s most recent project, implements a modification of the flight-proven and student-designed HyperCube structure that was recently flown as a 1U form-factor for the IPEX mission.  To increase educational benefits and expand the technical capabilities of the PolySat lab, many of the components used within the ExoCube mechanical structure have been manufactured by PolySat students using Cal Polys on-campus machine shops.  For the past several months, the ExoCube mechanical team has been working to finalize design and manufacturing, and we are excited to have finalized hardware that has been machined in recent weeks!

Zack Yun and Vanessa Faune setup the CNC mill to machine components of the ExoCube structure.

"Semesters? What a good joke!"

Vanessa Faune prepares to manufacture an ExoCube panel.

"Semesters? What a good joke!"

Partially integrated ExoCube test unit implementing components machined on-campus.

IPEX’s Continued Success

The PolySat team has been working diligently at continued improvements to the groundstation. Since the last post, we have downlinked several more images, and below are some of the best images yet!

A shot of the Hawaiian islands:

Beautiful clouds over the Pacific:

A frigid looking shot near the Pacific Rim:

All TLE images obtained using STK10

We will continue to post images as we receive them!

IPEX’s First Full Resolution Image!

For the past several weeks following P-POD deployment, IPEX has been downlinking images to Cal Poly’s upgraded groundstation to verify that the imaging and communications systems are working as expected.  We have recently received approval to release one of the first IPEX images captured post-deployment, and are excited to share with the community!  This image was taken on December 6, 2013 at 11:05 UTC using the -Z camera while IPEX was traversing over the Australian coast, pointed southwest towards the terminator line.

The successful capture, storage, and downlink of the recent IPEX images represents an important milestone for PolySat’s technical and operational capabilities.  IPEX is the first CubeSat to use PolySat’s new avionics suite, comprised of a variety of custom PCBs and a Tyvak Intrepid systemboard/comm board package.  The timely and efficient downlink of one of IPEX’s high-resolution deployment images such as this one adequately verifies not only PolySat’s new avionics bus, but the recent upgrades to the Cal Poly ground station as well.  We are excited to continue IPEX operations!



Obtained using STK10

IPEX Status

PPOD Initial Tracking Orbit

12/10/2013 – 11:55PM

The payload processor and software have been activated.

12/7/2013 – 10:00AM

Japan has gotten a very clear recording of IPEX.

Check it out here: http://www.dk3wn.info/p/?p=39287

Two types of beacons can be heard in the recording, a health beacon and the morse code beacon.

12/7/2013 – 12:00AM

Image thumbnails have been downlinked from each of the five cameras along with a telemetry packet.

12/6/2013 – 8:30AM

IPEX has received over 50 packets since the launch the night before. Decoded packets indicate the satellite is so far nominal. Initial checkout is still underway and updates will be posted.

Packets are being decoded from about 1.5 degrees above the horizon