Soon a somewhat special satellite in Earth orbit

Any satellite placed in low earth orbit is struggling against air molecules and gravity. Without a propellant, a satellite inevitably falls to earth. Recently, an undergraduate student group University of Michigan in Ann Arbor has noted the challenge of placing a new type of satellite in orbit with another technique.

The method is based on the properties of the ionosphere and electromagnetism.

Soon A Somewhat Special Satellite In Earth Orbit
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The probe in question bears the name of the MiTEE project (for Miniature Tether Electrodynamics Experiment ). It was launched this Sunday, January 17, 2021 through the Virgin Galactic flight in the Mojave Desert, California. This project represents six years of work and continuous effort for this interdisciplinary team at the University of Michigan.

This is the very first launch made by this group of students. The data collected by this satellite will serve as leverage for the second launch of the MiTEE project. However, this could take a few years as most of the students are volunteers.

How much current can we draw from the ionosphere?

Concretely, the young students cooperated with doctoral students to design a pair of satellites. Engineers and technicians from the space physics research laboratory of the same university also supervised the work. The first satellite is the size of a loaf of bread and the second, a large smartphone. The two are connected via an induced wire of electric current generated by on-board solar panels.

A rigid pole one meter long is attached between the two satellites. It will make it possible to record certain data, such as the quantity of current that can be drawn from the ionosphere. Note that the ionosphere generates atmospheric electricity, an important condition for the completion of this project.

But then, how are satellites supposed to stay in orbit?

The success of the project is based on the fundamental laws of physics. When an induced current wire is found in a magnetic field (ionosphere), it exerts a force on the current conductor. This process will allow, in theory, to counter the gravitational force and the drag caused by the air molecules at this height.

It's a whole new technique that the students are about to experience. For the second launch, the students plan to attach an additional antenna to see if it is possible to float an entire picosatellite system. For now, the objective is to make these small satellites gravitate at a distance LEO ( low earth orbit ).

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Any satellite placed in low earth orbit is struggling against air molecules and gravity. Without a propellant, a satellite inevitably falls to earth. Recently, an undergraduate student group University of Michigan in Ann Arbor has noted the challenge of placing a new type of satellite in orbit with another technique.

The method is based on the properties of the ionosphere and electromagnetism.

Soon A Somewhat Special Satellite In Earth Orbit
Pixabay credits

The probe in question bears the name of the MiTEE project (for Miniature Tether Electrodynamics Experiment ). It was launched this Sunday, January 17, 2021 through the Virgin Galactic flight in the Mojave Desert, California. This project represents six years of work and continuous effort for this interdisciplinary team at the University of Michigan.

This is the very first launch made by this group of students. The data collected by this satellite will serve as leverage for the second launch of the MiTEE project. However, this could take a few years as most of the students are volunteers.

How much current can we draw from the ionosphere?

Concretely, the young students cooperated with doctoral students to design a pair of satellites. Engineers and technicians from the space physics research laboratory of the same university also supervised the work. The first satellite is the size of a loaf of bread and the second, a large smartphone. The two are connected via an induced wire of electric current generated by on-board solar panels.

A rigid pole one meter long is attached between the two satellites. It will make it possible to record certain data, such as the quantity of current that can be drawn from the ionosphere. Note that the ionosphere generates atmospheric electricity, an important condition for the completion of this project.

But then, how are satellites supposed to stay in orbit?

The success of the project is based on the fundamental laws of physics. When an induced current wire is found in a magnetic field (ionosphere), it exerts a force on the current conductor. This process will allow, in theory, to counter the gravitational force and the drag caused by the air molecules at this height.

It's a whole new technique that the students are about to experience. For the second launch, the students plan to attach an additional antenna to see if it is possible to float an entire picosatellite system. For now, the objective is to make these small satellites gravitate at a distance LEO ( low earth orbit ).

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