Follow PicSat on
   Twitter30width    Youtube30width
French version   English version    
Logo transparent
Unravelling the Beta Pictoris System
Picsat is: not responding since 2018-03-20
Number of telemetry packets received today:
Last beacon satellite:
2018-04-07 20:45:22 UTC

Last beacon payload:
2018-03-20 01:00:08 UTC

Uplink is not active
Downlink is not active

News from PicSat

Displaying hashes 6 - 10 of 10 in total

PicSat en français !

Mathias Nowak, 2017-12-09 18:41:47

Nous y voilà ! Le site PicSat est désormais disponible en français, pour ceux qui préfèrent la langue de Molière à celle de Shakespeare !

Les News, quant à elles, seront tantôt en Anglais, tantôt en Français, selon l’humeur de l’auteur… Au pire, il y a toujours Google traduction !

Pour accéder à cette version, il suffit de cliquer sur le drapeau tricolore situé en haut à droite de la page.


Back online!

Mathias Nowak, 2017-12-05 15:20:44

After a short appearance during the week-end of December 2 – December 3, 2017, our brand new PicSat website is finally coming back online !

This website describes the mission and its objective, and it will be used throughout the mission to provide a way for all radioamateurs listening to the satellite to upload the data they received, and collaborate to our mission.

Retrieving all the the photometry of Beta Pictoris 24/7 to detect an exoplanet or some exocomets passing in front of it will be hard. And we know that. But we hope that with the support of the community, we will be able to do just that!

We are in the final stage of our pre-launch activities in Meudon. PicSat is still on the ground, but it will soon fly to India and start its journey to space. In the meantime, we will connect this website to our “engineering model” (a spare copy of the satellite that we keep on ground), so that you can have an idea of what our data look like. Some maintenance has to be expected during the next few days.

But we promise: as soon as PicSat is in space, this website will show the true uncorrected raw data coming directly from it! We hope you’ll enjoy this opportunity to see how a space mission is operated, and to get an idea of the sparsity of data we have to deal with on a day-to-day basis…

Don’t forget to check our Twitter account IamPicSat for the latest news!


Fit check OK

ldavid, 2017-10-31 14:23:11

Yesterday we performed a fit check of PicSat in the QuadPack CubeSat dispenser (on the right).

The dispenser and PicSat will be ship separatly to India where we will put PicSat in the dispenser before the integration on the launch vehicle.
This test allows to avoid discomfiture on the launch pad in case of an external modification of the satellite which may block it in the deployer. For this test, PicSat was almost in flight configuration with a development detector which will be modified in the next days.



Space is hard: PSLV-C39 launch failure

Mathias Nowak, 2017-09-01 15:02:49

Building and testing a satellite is an Herculean task. Making reliable software is exceptionally time-consuming and requires a lot of hard work. Building a working ground station and making sure that it can track a satellite moving at  8km/s above our head is tough. Making sure that the science instrument can reach the level of precision required for detecting the transit of Beta Pic b, and creating a database reliable and efficient enough to store all the data is a challenge all by itself. And today, we are recalled that launching a satellite into orbit — the only thing we were taking for granted so far — is also terribly complex and difficult…

The Indian rocket PSLV-C39, which lifted-off on schedule from Sriharikota, suffered from some sort of malfunction (apparently, the fairing did not separate), leading to the failure of the mission. More can be read on Space News or the Times of India.

PicSat is supposed to be launched on the next PSLV (codenamed PSLV-C40). At that time, we have no real info on what will happen to C40. But it would not really be a surprise if it suffers some delay due to the failure of C39…

Yeah, space IS hard.

Underperformance of the PSLV in late phase of the launch (upper plot is velocity relative to Earth vs time, and lower plot is altitude vs time; nominal expected curves and real data are shown). Credits: DD national.



In the vacuum chamber, no one can hear you scream

Mathias Nowak, 2017-08-23 01:36:20

PicSat is back in the thermal vacuum chamber SimEnOm! After having cycled the payload electronic board v1.00, the payload electronic board v1.10, and the full engineering model, we are now cycling the flight model of PicSat! We have just removed the telescope so that our very talented optical team can continue working on the alignment. But there is no star in SimEnOm anyway, so that’s fine.

We are cycling the satellite from -20°C to +30°C. These are not extreme temperatures, but they are representative of the range we expect to have in space.

Installing PicSat in the chamber took quite a bit a time, as we had to be extremely careful not to damage anything, or deploy the solar panels by mistake. Oh, and yeah, we somehow found a way to forgot to put the latest version of the code on the payload board when integrating it into the satellite, so we also had to unscrew one side of the satellite to plug in the JTAG connector and (unsuccessfully) try to update it…

(management banned the picture here)

Uh? But wait a minute, haven’t we developed, wrote and tested a bootloader for this board, allowing updates to be performed remotely by radio? Yeah, but we kinda messed up with the versions here too…

ANYWAY, the main computer receives and replies to all our TCs (aka telecommands) smoothly; it tirelessly emits its beacon every 10 s; and we see all those sweet TM (telemetry) packets with our constantly changing, ever-evolving ground segment software! Plus, the faulty payload bootloader still accept/reply to some commands, so evreything is fine. There is even a beacon on the old payload app! So, really, what more could we ask for? Better version control / software quality management, maybe? Meh! Who needs that?

The main objective was to check the full communication chain at different temperatures, and thus the test campaign was unanimously considered a SUCCESS.

Next: vibrations!

Sylvestre is installing PicSat into the testPOD. Worry not: he was very well supervized during this operation.