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Students Build Finland's First Satellite

The nation's first satellite is under construction at Otaniemi in Espoo. Dubbed Aalto-1, it is to be sent into orbit in 2013. The satellite is being primarily designed, built and tested by students at Aalto University.

Image: Aalto University

The orbiter is based on the CubeSat nanosatellite format, which has been developed and widely used by universities.

Slightly larger than a milk carton, the model weighs just three kilos.

The main device installed on it will be an imaging spectrometer developed by the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, which will be used for long-distance environmental monitoring.

The satellite will also test an electrostatic plasma brake developed by Pekka Janhunen and the Finnish Meteorological Institute. The device is to be used to de-orbit the satellite once it has completed its task in mid-2014. It is then destroyed as it re-enters the earth's atmosphere.

"Space junk is becoming a major problem as small satellites proliferate," notes Jaan Praks, Assistant on Space Technology at the university's Department of Radio Science and Engineering.

The third gadget on the orbiter will be a radiation monitor developed by the universities of Turku and Helsinki.

"Aalto-1 is more ambitious than most student space projects, since most CubeSat satellites have only contained one piece of equipment," says Praks.

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