First image of AMICal Sat!

On the  November 10, 2020
1re image du satellite AMICal Sat
1re image du satellite AMICal Sat
Launched on the night of September 3 at 1:51 am UT (3:51 am French time) on Arianespace's Vega 16 flight, AMICal SaT, the first nanosatellite of the Grenoble University Space Center (CSUG - UGA/Grenoble INP-UGA), transmitted its first image of dawn to the ground. The first of a long series that will improve knowledge of the polar aurora and help us better understand how solar flares can affect our technological systems.
After a takeoff delayed by many elements, AMICal Sat has been flying at 530km from the Earth for 2 months at a rate of about 15 orbits per day. This time was necessary to test the various functions of the satellite. The satellite works quite well despite a software problem still under investigation concerning the orientation system.

For several weeks now, the operation of the payload (a very bright camera) has been tested, proving that the Grenoble students involved in the project were able, with their supervisors, to produce a space instrument that works.

This is a great success for them, for the CSUG and for all the partners and sponsors brought together by the UGA Foundation!

"The days of October 21 and 22 were periods of moderate geomagnetic activity but we were able to take pictures of polar auroras. 17 photos were taken between 9pm UT (11pm French time) and 10am UT (12pm French time). The pictures were transmitted uncompressed to Earth by the radio link at a fairly high speed (S-band at 2.4 GHz) in several times. After a decoding which takes time, we were able, thanks to the help of the amateur radio community, especially in Grenoble, to process this image. The aurora is weak, the picture required a lot of work: reconstruction of the colors of the scattered RGB matrix and then increasing the contrast. Other photos are currently being processed for further scientific exploitation," explains Mathieu Barthelemy, Director of the CSUG.
He added: "We would like to especially thank Vladimir Kalegaev (MSU SINP, Russia) who has been working with us since the beginning, as well as Sergei Krasnopeev (NILAKT, Russia), Julien Nicolas (F4HVX, ADRI38, Grenoble, France) and Daniel Estévez (EA4GPZ, Spain) for their help in decoding the radio links. We would also like to thank the whole amateur radio community for the more than 30,000 recovered data packets."

The black or colored dots on the image are missing data (poor quality radio link at the time of these transmissions).

1re image du satellite AMICal Sat

Picture date: 22 Oct at 8:53 am UTC.
The position of the satellite: 141.2° W, 62.9° S close to the Antarctic continent above the Pacific Ocean.
Exposure time: 5s

This is only the first of a long series that will improve our knowledge of the polar aurora and, thanks to the modeling work of PhD students, will lead to a better understanding of the impacts of solar activity on our technological systems such as radio communications, power grids and even the satellites themselves.

Published on  November 10, 2020
Updated on November 10, 2020