What is a MicroSat?

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Sep 16, 2022

Microsat is a type of artificial satellite weighing roughly around 10-100 Kg and is launched into space at an altitude of around 350 miles (550 km)  above the earth’s surface. Microsats can be built inexpensively and launched into the Lower Earth Orbit (LEO) which can be used for applications such as remote sensing and communications. A group of Microsats can work together or in a formation to provide continuous coverage over a region.

Microsats can be launched into space by hitchhiking in the rockets that are used to transfer larger satellites above the earth by using any extra available space. They are packed in a container which, with a push of a button, activates a spring that ejects the Microsat into space. While Microsats have been carried to space as secondary payloads, it was getting difficult to accommodate Microsats weighing around 50-90 kgs aboard a large satellite launcher as a secondary payload. To tackle this situation, indigenous launch vehicles were created for microsats that can launch a payload of around 100 kgs into LEO.

Due to the minimal size of the microsat, expenditure is significantly reduced which is essential for small companies & research institutes to help them realize their goal of having their satellite above the earth which will further facilitate their research. 

Type Of Mission

Examples

Technological Demonstration

A Microsat 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

Science & Environment

A Microsat’s readings can be used for storm detection and in the development of climate and weather models which will help weather forecasts. Other applications include tracking forest fires and Earthquake Monitoring.

Commercial Purposes

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

The major drawback of Microsat is its lifecycle or mission duration. It can only be operational for 12-24 months. A Microsat has a moderate amount of propulsion, which means that after subjecting it to an orbit, it can be controlled from the base station. A microsat cannot be operational at higher altitudes above the earth i.e. medium earth orbit (MEO), geostationary orbit (GEO), and highly elliptical orbit (HEO).