Sunstorm, ESA’s latest technology CubeSat, seen undergoing a tabletop test deployment of its power-giving solar arrays, in preparation for its space weather detection mission
CubeSats are miniaturised satellites based on standardised 10 cm boxes. This ‘2-unit’ CubeSat will fly an innovative solar X-ray spectrometer to detect the X-ray pulses produced by coronal mass ejections – massive eruptions of many millions of tons of material from the Sun’s surface. These give rise in turn to solar storms, threatening potentially harmful effects on satellites and terrestrial power and communications networks, even aircraft on polar flights.
The Finnish-led instrument was developed by ISAWARE, Aboa Space Research Oy, Oxford Instruments Technologies and Talvioja Consulting. Its host CubeSat has been manufactured by Finland’s Reaktor Space Lab.
The instrument and mission have been funded by Business Finland and the FLY element of ESA’s General Support Technology Programme, dedicated to the early space testing of promising new technologies.
Once demonstrated in space, a follow-on version of the instrument will be flown on ESA’s Lagrange operational space weather monitoring mission.
A qualification model of Sunstorm recently underwent vibration and thermal vacuum testing at Reaktor Space Lab’s facility, as well as the solar array test seen here, in order to qualify the design ahead of the planned launch of the flight model early next year.