ESA title

Choose your mission

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ESA / Education / CanSat

Primary mission

The team must build a CanSat and program it to accomplish the compulsory primary mission, as follows:

After release and during descent, the CanSat shall measure the following parameters and transmit the data as telemetry at least once every second to the ground station:

  • Air temperature
  • Air pressure

It must be possible for the team to analyse the data obtained (for example, make a calculation of altitude) and display it in graphs (for example, altitude vs. time and temperature vs. altitude).

Secondary mission

The secondary mission for the CanSat must be selected by the team. It can be based on other satellite missions, a perceived need for scientific data for a specific project, a technology demonstration for a student-designed component, or any other mission that would fit the CanSat’s capabilities.

Some examples of missions are listed below, but teams are free to design a mission of their choice, as long as it can be demonstrated to have some scientific, technological or innovative value. Teams should also keep in mind the limitations of the CanSat mission profile, and focus on the feasibility (both technical and administrative) of their chosen mission.

Some example secondary missions:

1. Advanced telemetry
After release and during descent, the CanSat measures and transmits additional telemetry to that required for the primary mission, for example:

  • Acceleration
  • GPS location
  • Radiation levels


2. Telecommand
During descent, commands are sent from the ground to the CanSat to perform an action, such as switching a sensor on and off, changing the frequency of measurements, etc.

3. Targeted landing
The CanSat navigates autonomously with a control mechanism such as a parafoil. The objective is for the CanSat to land as close as possible to a fixed target point on the ground after it has been released from the rocket. This mission is an advanced telemetry/telecommand mission - navigation data is exchanged between the CanSat and a ground station throughout the descent/landing system. For this mission, an alternative safe landing system for the CanSat would be deployed, such as a bespoke parachute or airbag.

4. Planetary probe
A CanSat can simulate an exploration flight to a new planet, taking measurements on the ground after landing. Teams should define their exploration mission and identify the parameters necessary to accomplish it (e.g. pressure, temperature, samples of the terrain, humidity, etc.).