Fly Your Satellite! teams adapt to working in a world changed by COVID-19


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The world as we know it has transformed, with the COVID-19 pandemic halting quite a few functions all-around the globe. Demonstrating the impressive can-do attitude that marks effective space engineers, the groups participating in ESA’s Education’s Fly Your Satellite! programme have devised strategies to adapt to teleworking, with restricted or no entry to their lab facilities, when beneath typical situations they would be functioning on hardware manufacturing, software program advancement, testing, and more. Remarkably, some groups have even enabled remote entry to their satellites, preserving a speedy rate of advancement!

LEDSAT, Sapienza College of Rome, Italy

LEDSAT conferences in occasions of teleworking

The LEDSAT group were near to finalising the integration of their satellite when COVID-19 struck Europe, and they strategy to resume speedily at the time they can get back entry to their lab. “The spacecraft is in our laboratory, eager to be analyzed,” they say,“but we want not to arrange remotely managed assessments holding it lively if an operator is not near.”

However, this is not blocking the group from functioning on the job from different angles. The past couple of months have been spent optimising test strategies for the ambient testing campaign, and preparing the documentation wanted for kicking off the functional assessments as soon as limits are lifted.

The group have appeared to digital answers to reproduce the pleasure of facet-by-facet functioning in the lab. “Staying far from the lab for months or months is tricky, specially if you are pressured not to see your teammates and close friends for so extended,”they say. “During teleworking, videocalls can be a exciting minute to share in the working day, either for solving some specialized doubts on the job or to appreciate a incredibly Italian espresso, all jointly!”

3CAT-four, Technological College of Catalonia, Spain

3CAT-four cleanroom for remote connection

COVID-19 has prevented the threeCAT-four group from viewing their college because mid-March. They were not ready to spend any time in advance to prepare their facilities for remote function, so as an alternative elected to continue on with their job documentation, as this was the most realistically achievable job. Sooner or later, as limits were relaxed, two group associates were ready to take a look at their lab in buy to acquire entry to their computer technique and FlatSat, which is a device containing all the CubeSat parts but mounted on a flat board, building it practical for testing and troubleshooting.  

The important lab time was also spent configuring a electric power source that can be activated remotely, supplying the group control of each the FlatSat and their suite of Electrical Floor Help Products (EGSE). This authorized all teammates to execute software program advancement and testing even though remaining bodily distant from the real hardware.

Knowing that this sort of remote function arrives with inherent pitfalls, the ultimate job was to set up a digicam so that the group can continue to have eyes on the hardware in the lab. With all this function done, the group have been ready to continue on advancement of their CubeSat job securely.

EIRSAT-one, College College or university Dublin, Ireland

EIRSAT-one cleanroom livestream

When social distancing limits initially commenced, the satellite cleanroom was configured for a single operator to be current allowing for remote functions and product assurance help. This was obtained using a non-public YouTube stream to watch the hardware, and a Cleanroom Discord channel allowing all operators to converse and remotely watch each other’s computer screens. Now, the cleanroom operates one hundred% remotely. 

The EIRSAT-one group have been using these new remote abilities to continue on developing the flight software program and firmware, and to test on actual hardware. More than the past couple of months, the group has executed a sequence of ‘Mini Mission Tests’ in buy to remotely educate operators and to develop strategies for the upcoming Mission Examination.

Adjusting to the new typical, the group has managed to continue on progressing the satellite documentation with fortnightly ‘Document Update Days’ adopted by a round of space themed Kahoot! or on line Pictionary. A student from the Gamma-ray Module group organises these functions, adding “I consider it is important for the group to keep in contact and examine in with each other. It is awesome to continue to keep in touch away from purely function-relevant conversations, I consider it helps everything truly feel a bit more typical.”

ISTsat-one, Instituto Superior Técnico, Portugal

ISTsat-one Distant FlatSat

The ISTSat-one group has been functioning from residence because early March, when entry to their college campus was initially restricted. As it was not feasible to on a regular basis entry the job hardware, the group relied on its FlatSat to continue on developing software program and testing technique features. Thankfully, their FlatSat options all the ISTSat-one subsystems built-in by means of a devoted backplane, dummy antennas related to the Telemetry, Tracking, & Control (TT&C) ports, a Pluto Software Described Radio (SDR) running GNU-Radio software program functioning as a ground station, and an Electrical Floor Help Products (EGSE)technique, which accesses the I2C bus. Every single subsystem also options a programming interface related to a Raspberry Pi board. 

This setup has authorized the group to execute assessments in preparation for the Complete Practical campaign, despite the fact that the lockdown has hindered the rate at which these integration assessments can choose area.

Fly Your Satellite! 3rd Edition

Meanwhile, groups participating in the Third Edition of Fly Your Satellite! are also challenging at function, building progress with their mission designs. Becoming at an before stage in the process suggests that they are a lot less impacted by becoming not able to entry their labs, but they are continue to owning to adapt to new techniques of functioning. Learners are collaborating from their houses, even though webinars and digital assembly have been organised to talk to with experts.

Congratulations to all the Fly Your Satellite! groups for their perseverance and adaptability allowing them to continue on developing their jobs, and help each other as teammates, in these difficult and unexpected situations.

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