Micro Telescope Completes Major In-Orbit Milestone
Dynacon Inc. today announced that a major milestone in the commissioning of the MOST microsatellite was achieved today, with the successful detumbling of the satellite. MOST was launched on June 30, with initial radio contact being made with the satellite a few hours after launch.
Since that time, engineers at the MOST Satellite Control Center have been gradually turning on and checking out the various items of equipment in the satellite, a process known as commissioning. All of the primary equipment on MOST has now been activated, and all items are functioning properly.
MOST was released from the launch vehicle spinning slowly, at about 3 degrees per second, or one complete revolution every 2 minutes. At 7 AM today, the Satellite Control Centre, located at the Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) of the University of Toronto's Institute for Aerospace Studies in north Toronto, issued the command for MOST's attitude control subsystem to "detumble" the satellite.
This is the simplest of MOST's several attitude control operating modes, using the on-board magnetormeter (a 3-axis magnetic compass) and magnetic torque rods to slow down the satellite's spin rate. At 8:30 AM, telemetry was received from the satellite indicating that detumbling had been successful. MOST is now barely spinning at all, with a residual rotation rate of about 0.05 degrees per second, or one complete revolution every 2 hours -- half the rotation speed of the minute hand of a clock.
Achievement of this milestone confirms the correct operation of much of the satellite's command and control equipment. Work is now underway to proceed towards the next milestone, activation of the satellite's active pointing control mode.
MOST (which stands for "Microvariability & Oscillations of STars") was developed for the Canadian Space Agency by a Dynacon-led team of Canadian engineers. With a size about that of a suitcase, a mass of only 52 kg and a cost under CDN$10M, this is Canada's first "microsatellite."
MOST also carries Canada's first space telescope, and will make some specialized astronomical observations beyond the capacity of any other instrument. Collection of science data, very precise measurements of the brightness of target stars, will proceed in a few weeks, following completion of satellite commissioning. A one-year long science mission is planned for MOST.
MOST was funded and managed by the Canadian Space Agency's Space Science Branch; additional funding was provided to SFL by the Ontario government through its Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund. Dynacon, as Prime Contractor for the mission, led the team that developed the satellite and its ground stations, and that is now operating MOST for the CSA.
The Principal Investigator, Dr. Jaymie Matthews of the University of British Columbia (UBC), leads a team of scientists from across Canada, the United States and Austria, who will use measurements of the brightness of stars from the telescope on MOST to probe the interior of stars, set a limit on the age of the Universe, and for the first time, detect the light reflected by mysterious planets beyond our Solar System.
The MOST project is a co-operative Canadian scientific partnership. Dynacon developed the design for the overall MOST system, and has managed the satellite development program. The telescope carried by MOST was developed by a team at UBC, led by Dr. Matthews. Dynacon and SFL jointly developed the satellite's "bus".
MOST at Dynacon
MOST at CSA
MOST at UTIAS
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The Answer's To Space Technology Are In The Spheres
Boston - June 23, 2003
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