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Lessons Learned from IDEASSat: Design, Testing, on Orbit Operations, and Anomaly Analysis of a First University CubeSat Intended for Ionospheric Science

Abstract : Given the pervasive use of satellite and over the horizon wireless communication tech- nology in modern society, ionospheric disturbances that can disrupt such services are a crucial consideration. Ionospheric irregularities, plasma bubbles and other phenomena can have a great impact on satellite navigation and communications, impacting other systems reliant on such technolo- gies. The Ionospheric Dynamics and Attitude Subsystem Satellite (IDEASSat) was a 3U developed by National Central University (NCU) to measure irregularities in the ionosphere, as well as to establish spacecraft engineering and operations capacity at NCU. The onboard Compact Ionospheric Probe (CIP) could measure high-resolution plasma parameters, which can be used for identifying iono- spheric irregularities that can cause scintillation in satellite navigation and communications signals. Part of the spacecraft sub-systems were independently designed and developed by students, who were also responsible for integration, testing, and operations. IDEASSat was successfully launched into low Earth orbit on 24 January 2021, and then began mission operations. The spacecraft success- fully demonstrated three-axis attitude stabilization and control, tracking, telemetry and command (TT&C), as well as flight software and ground systems that could support autonomous operation. The spacecraft experienced a critical anomaly 22 days after launch, followed by a 1.5-month commu- nications blackout. The spacecraft briefly recovered from the blackout for long enough to replay flight data, which allowed for the cause of the blackout to be determined as an inability of the electrical power subsystem reset circuit to recover from an ionizing radiation induced single event latch-up. Although the mission was not completed, flight data obtained during the mission will help to im- prove the designs of future spacecraft in development at NCU. This paper will introduce IDEASSat’s final flight model design and implementation, integration, testing, environmental verification, and failure analysis, and will review the performance of the spacecraft during on-orbit operations. The results and experiences encountered in implementation and operations of the IDEASSat mission are presented here as a reference for other university small satellite teams.
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Yi-Chung Chiu, Loren C. Chang, Chi-Kuang Chao, Tzu-Ya Tai, Kai-Lun Cheng, et al.. Lessons Learned from IDEASSat: Design, Testing, on Orbit Operations, and Anomaly Analysis of a First University CubeSat Intended for Ionospheric Science. Aerospace, MDPI, 2022, 9, pp.110. ⟨10.3390/aerospace9020110⟩. ⟨insu-03581344⟩

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