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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

  • 39161
  • ESTCube1

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

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