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The University of La Plata will build a satellite: “It is to demonstrate that these things can be done at the university”


The Faculty of Engineering of the National University of La Plata (UNLP) will develop its first own satellite, which can be used to study the characteristics of the floor, analyze the water or the town planning, Watch the movement land, detect fires or observe weather changes.

He Aerospace Technology Center (CTA) from the Faculty of Engineering launched the project “University Satellite”, a call that seeks that the students and the scientific community of the UNLP present proposals with the objectives and information that the satellite should collect to fulfill the mission once it is in orbit.

“We set out to make a satellite and first launched a call – which expires in August – within the University’s scientific system to define what mission it will have,” explained UNLP vice president and CTA director Marcos Actis in an interview with Télam. .

“When it is defined what we are going to measure, we will make a new call for other members of the system to build the instrument,” he said and anticipated that it is thought that the satellite will be ready by November 2021, when they will look for a way to put it into orbit. .

A rocket developed in the Aeronautical Engineering career at the National University of La Plata, which will now be Aerospace Engineering.

A rocket developed in the Aeronautical Engineering career at the National University of La Plata, which will now be Aerospace Engineering.

In this sense, the project coordinator and aeronautical engineer, Sonia Botta, explained to this agency that those interested in participating should approach “scientific-technological proposals“that is, scientific objectives or specific instrumentation that you want to test as a technological demonstration.

“If possible, the proposals should be accompanied by more technical details. In the case of scientific objectives, requirements such as the sensitivity or resolution of the instrument, specific parameters to be detected; and in the case of instrumentation, the requirements technological as the maximum power, the energy or the thermal control “, graficó.

The objective is to encourage young people to participate in this type of project and to develop technology.

Sonia Botta, coordinator

“We want to demonstrate that these things can be done at the university,” he added.

The premise that governs the proposal is “science within everyone’s reach” since for Actis it is fundamental “that the boys know that these things are done in the country: We have the technology, the capacity and the human resources trained for it. “

“The prospects are very good, the country has changed. We are at a stage where science and technology are worth,” he said.

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A cheap nanosatellite, an expensive launch

The elaboration of the nanosatellite, an instrument of the category called “CubeSat”, which It will be 30cm by 30cm and weigh about 20 kilos, will require an investment of about 20 thousand dollars, which will be contributed entirely with funds from the CTA.

“What is onerous is the launch, which starts at $ 200,000. But we are confident that, because of the ties that we are generating with China and with NASA, in the United States, we can put him on a mission that they do“Actis described and did not rule out that if the Arsat 3, whose development was resumed, is built,” it can be asked to go as an auxiliary cargo at launch. “

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The satellite will have an aluminum structure with a navigation system inside that will be built by the Faculty. Lithium batteries, solar panels and golden blankets will be developed in the laboratory of the Aerospace Technology Center.

The nanosatellite costs $ 20,000. Launch it, 200,000.

Marcos Actis, President of CTA

“We want to put that instrument that scientists need, build it and provide a service for researchers who require data and that can be obtained today, but by resorting to foreign agencies,” said Actis.

Key to the environment

Nanosatellite will be key to detecting fires and analyzing soils. (Reuters)

Nanosatellite will be key to detecting fires and analyzing soils. (Reuters)

Even though these satellites are small, they can fulfill many missions: According to Botta in terrestrial observation “you can do soil analysis, hydrology, earthworks, urban planning, meteorological monitoring”.

“If we look into space, we can make measurements on space weather (the interaction between the sun and the earth’s atmosphere), detect cosmic rays, or analyze terrestrial radiation, “said the researcher, and described that another field where these satellites can be used is” in the collection of data from terrestrial sensors. “

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Exit to space of Arsat-2, one of the hiots of the Argentine aerospace industry. (Arsat)

Exit to space of Arsat-2, one of the hiots of the Argentine aerospace industry. (Arsat)

“That is, with sensors located here. The satellite passes over it, collects the information stored in the sensor and relays it to an earth station. This is very useful for remote areas, (such as Antarctica) or in very large groups of sensors, “the scientist analyzed.

Actis stressed the importance of continuing to bet on the development of space sovereignty and said that, worldwide, “the trend is to manufacture satellites in smaller and smaller sizes. “

“Until 2015 Argentina was the main country in Latin America in the realization of satellites but since the government changed until last year this was the night: not only nothing was done, but valuable people who were trained in building satellites and launchers“said the vice president of the University.

“We have to repower the space sovereignty, as the current government decided, because we have Brazil as a competitor. Argentina has to be the leader in Latin America,” said the engineer, adding that his dream is “to be able to put our own satellites into orbit, to have our own television images across the country or the Internet and not depend on other nationss “.

Actis said the aspiration is “to revive the plan to have a launcher of your own.” “This is key to being able be ourselves who put into orbit the satellite that we are going to build here“, Hill.

With information from Télam

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