CanSat Lift-off in European Finale
The CanSat competition is organized by ESA and involves building a satellite the size of a beverage can. This is then brought to about 1000m by a rocket during the launch campaign and has to perform some tasks during the descent.
Each team has to measure temperature and pressure during the descent and create an altitude profile of the descent. The second task, however, is freely selectable.
Only 10 teams from all over Germany were selected to participate in the competition. We therefore feel very honored to be allowed to participate in the competition.
Here you can find more information about the CanSat-Competition.
We as Team Astra Aether, due to the progression of drought and the increasingly frequent forest fires, are considering a system that can be used to determine drought via multispectral remote sensing as well as the associated fire risk. In order to distinguish field and forest areas from cities, we use an AI based system. In order for the video recordings to be usable, the cameras must be stabilized. For this purpose, we are developing a reaction wheel that controls as well as corrects the rotation of our CanSat.
Our satellite for the national competition is ready. It consists of five different "layers". The top layer is equipped with sensors whose task is to fulfill the primary mission. I.e. it measures air pressure, temperature but also other data. This is followed by the control layer, which is responsible for controlling the satellite and storing the data. After that, a reaction wheel is installed, which is responsible for controlling the rotation of the CanSat, so that a stable fall is possible. On the penultimate layer is a battery and main switch mounted, for powering the CanSat. At the bottom, cameras are mounted, so that its images can be used to determine the fire risk of the monitored area.
The CanSat is enclosed in a shell to protect the electronics, to which a parachute is attached to slow down the fall of the CanSat.
To better understand the behavior of the reaction wheel in flight, we have built a prototype.
This prototype should be as simple as possible and contains only the components necessary for the reaction wheel.
It has a BNO055 orientation sensor to sense rotation, a L293D motor driver that can control the motor's speed and direction, and a radio module that will send live data to a ground station for analysis. We use a Raspberry Pi Pico as the microcontroller responsible for processing the data and doing the calculations.
The reaction wheel has holes where screws can be attached to change the moment of inertia of the reaction wheel and is attached directly to the motor shaft.
The hull provides options for attaching a recovery system (parachute or streamers) to one or more points. It also has foam padding on the bottom to better cushion the impact.
Our satellite should look like this after landing:
We collect as much data as possible as a secondary mission. For this we use a GPS, an accelerometer and 2 temperature/pressure sensors. The CanSat is built up of single layers-each layer is responsible for a different task.
The top layer contains the GPS, the accelerometer and a pressure/temperature sensor. Below that is the layer with a voltage transformer, the main computer and an acoustic signal generator. Below that is the main switch, the charging port and the battery. Another layer contains 2 micro SD card readers so that we can store the collected data. Additionally, there is a radio module on this layer. This should have communicated with a ground station. Unfortunately, since the launch can only take place digitally, the radio module is unused. Underneath there is also a temperature/pressure sensor. So we can determine the absolute altitude of the CanSat without calibration of the normal pressure.
Around the CanSat comes a blue-yellow cover.
To slow down the CanSat we use streamers. These are long bands of metallized foil. In total we use 2 or 4 streamers depending on the speed we want to achieve.
The layers, which are not formed by PCBs, were made at school using a 3D printer. For more information, feel free to check out our blog.
After 8 months of intensive work, the final presentation was on 12.5 and the result was clear. We became vice champion of the German CanSat competition 2021/22. 2nd place! We are really proud of this place. We have invested many sleepless nights and some nerves in this satellite, but also in the videos and presentations around it.
With this result the competition is over for us at this point. But maybe or maybe not a plan to participate in the German CanSat competition 2022/23 is underway again.
Currently we participate in the CanSat competition, which is very costly due to its intensity. Therefore, we thank our sponsors:
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