NASA Logo, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive Header

ESTCube 1



1U cubesat from Estonia that will deploy a 10m long the tether and measure/study effects on it of the solar wind with a view to future use as a solar sail. While emphasis was placed on educating students during creation of ESTCube-1, it does have a scientific purpose. On board the satellite is an electric solar wind sail (e-sail) which was invented by Finnish scientist Pekka Janhunen. During an ESTCube-1 flight, 10 meters of 20–50 micrometer thick e-sail wire, sometimes referred to as "Heytether," is deployed from the satellite. The deployment of the Heytether is detected by a decrease of the satellite's rotation speed or an on-board camera. To control the e-sail element's interaction with both the plasma surrounding the Earth and the effect it has on the spacecraft's spinning speed, two nanotechnologic electron emitters/guns are on board. The electron emitters are connected to the e-sail element which it loads positively to 500 volts by shooting out electrons. The positive ions in the plasma push the e-sail element and influence the satellite's rotation speed. The effect of the plasma on the e-sail is measured by the change in said rotation speed. After the measurements on the e-sail effect are completed, the Heytether is used as a plasma-brake by loading its ionosphere opposite to the plasma's ionosphere. This demonstrates a possibility for returning small satellites from orbit. A color CMOS camera is also on board that is capable of making RAW-format pictures with VGA-resolution. This camera is used to take a picture of Earth and to monitor deployment of the Heytether.

Alternate Names

    Facts in Brief

    Launch Date: 2013-05-07
    Launch Vehicle: Vega
    Launch Site: Kourou, French Guiana
    Mass: 1 kg

    Funding Agency

    • Unknown (Estonia)


    • Technology Applications
    • Earth Science

    Additional Information

    Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office

    [] NASA Logo -