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EIRSAT-1: Ireland’s First Space Mission Led by UCD Students Under ESA’s Educational Programme

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The European Space Agency (ESA) has embarked on an innovative project with University College Dublin (UCD) students at the helm, marking a significant stride in space research. EIRSAT-1, a 2U CubeSat, serves as an in-orbit platform to demonstrate three uniquely developed Irish payloads, showcasing groundbreaking technologies in space exploration.

GMOD: Gamma-Ray Burst Detection Technology

The first payload, GMOD, is a scintillator-based detector developed at UCD. It is designed to detect gamma-ray bursts, which are critical for studying cosmic events like star collisions. This payload aims to assess the technology’s feasibility for future gamma-ray missions, potentially revolutionizing our understanding of such astronomical phenomena.

EMOD: Testing ENBIO’s Thermal Control Coatings in Space

EMOD, the second payload, represents a collaboration with the Irish company ENBIO. It focuses on testing thermal control coatings, such as SolarWhite and SolarBlack, in the low earth orbit environment. This module’s objective is to measure the performance of these novel surface treatments, providing valuable data for future space missions.

WBC: Advancing Attitude Control Algorithms

The third component, WBC, features an attitude control algorithm developed at UCD. This algorithm, which will be tested later in the mission, offers a potential alternative to conventional Attitude Determination and Control methods. While it has been tested in simulations and parabolic flights, its spaceflight viability remains to be proven.

Inspiring Future Generations in STEM

A key goal of the EIRSAT-1 mission, as highlighted by the ESA, is to inspire Irish students to pursue STEM subjects. This is facilitated through an extensive outreach program, aiming to spark interest and enthusiasm in space science and technology among the youth.

Launch and Mission Details

EIRSAT-1 is scheduled for launch at the end of November, with a mission duration estimated between 9 to 24 months. The project represents a significant milestone as Ireland’s first space mission and was prepared with extensive testing at the ESA’s Hertz antenna test chamber in Noordwijk, Holland, in 2020.

Support and Educational Impact

The mission is supported by the Education Office of the European Space Agency under the Fly your Satellite! Programme. EIRSAT-1 not only marks Ireland’s foray into space exploration but also serves as a testament to the potential of educational initiatives in fostering next-generation scientific advancements.

Michal Pukala
Electronics and Telecommunications engineer with Electro-energetics Master degree graduation. Lightning designer experienced engineer. Currently working in IT industry.