Nanosatellites are very small satellites that can conduct various space missions using microelectronics, primarily in near-Earth orbits. Aerospace engineering students need to learn about the working principles and control of nanosatellites. However, the cost of an actual nanosatellite system is very expensive and is not suitable for an engineering college-level education. Therefore, this simplified classroom-based simulation kit for nanosatellite was developed, named OctaSat.
This innovation is for the OctaSat control and data acquisition simulation software named OCTET. The version of OCTET at the time of this reporting has been run in Windows Vista 32-bit and Windows XP 32-bit only. The OCTET program uses virtual serial ports made by wireless connections to the OctaSat hardware via Bluetooth and USB wireless hub.
The OctaSat hardware is an octagonal cylinder with two solar panels on each side, for a total of 16 solar panels. It has two microcomputers. The first one is a main control computer with a Pentiumclass CPU for sensors, actuators, and multi-solenoid-valve control. The second microcomputer controls vision/image processing and performs secondary data acquisition and camera control. It also has a Global Positioning System (GPS) and an Inertial Motion-sensor Unit (IMU).
The primary benefit and application of this technology is providing nanosatellite command and control simulation software for aerospace engineering educational programs. This simulation software, even with the required purchase of the associated hardware, is intended to make nanosatellite training accessible to aerospace engineering students.
In the educational market, the commercial potential for this innovation is to license the software to an educational materials firm(s) that would sell the nanosatellite simulation program to engineering departments. Coupling this software with hardware to make a complete educational kit is also likely to improve the potential that instructors might wish to use this tool in their course.