What is a CubeSat?

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Sep 8, 2022

CubeSat is a square-based nanosatellite that weighs roughly around 1 Kg and is launched into space at an altitude of around 350 miles (550 km) above the Earth’s Surface. It can be built inexpensively and launched into the Lower Earth Orbit (LEO), which can be used for applications such as remote sensing and communications. CubeSat is launched into space by hitchhiking in the rockets which is used to transfer larger satellites above the earth's surface. It can also be deployed from the International Space Station (ISS) where the CubeSat was transported from the Earth as a form of a payload.

Type Of Mission

Examples

Technological Demonstration

A CubeSat can be used to check and verify the performance of a new thermal imaging camera by using different settings to evaluate the quality of the images captured

Scientific Educational Projects

A CubeSat can be used by Students to track wild animals by the radio signals that can be emitted from the collars that are attached to them

Commercial Purposes

A Company Owning CubeSat equipment can sell high-res images of Earths to clients that deal in agriculture & city planning

A major drawback of CubeSat is its lifecycle or mission duration. The probability of a CubeSat failing at launch from the rocket or the ISS is much higher when compared to traditional satellites. CubeSat has a very nominal amount of propulsion, which means that after subjecting it to an orbit, it cannot be controlled. Additionally, a CubeSat cannot be operational at higher altitudes above the earth i.e. Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), Geostationary orbit (GEO), and highly elliptical orbit (HEO).