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

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22/05/2020
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The environment as we know it has modified, with the COVID-19 pandemic halting a lot of routines all over the world. Showing the ground breaking can-do mind-set that marks productive area engineers, the teams collaborating in ESA’s Education’s Fly Your Satellite! programme have devised techniques to adapt to teleworking, with restricted or no access to their lab services, when beneath ordinary situations they would be functioning on components manufacturing, software program improvement, screening, and much more. Remarkably, some teams have even enabled distant access to their satellites, preserving a speedy rate of improvement!

LEDSAT, Sapienza College of Rome, Italy

LEDSAT conferences in instances of teleworking

The LEDSAT group were near to finalising the integration of their satellite when COVID-19 struck Europe, and they approach to resume speedily once they can regain access to their lab. “The spacecraft is in our laboratory, keen to be analyzed,” they say,“but we want not to organize remotely controlled checks preserving it energetic if an operator is not near.”

Nevertheless, this is not protecting against the group from functioning on the project from various angles. The past couple months have been expended optimising check methods for the ambient screening campaign, and preparing the documentation needed for kicking off the purposeful checks as quickly as limitations are lifted.

The group have looked to digital options to reproduce the pleasure of aspect-by-aspect functioning in the lab. “Staying much from the lab for months or months is difficult, specially if you are compelled not to see your teammates and buddies for so extended,”they say. “During teleworking, videocalls can be a entertaining minute to share in the working day, both for solving some technological doubts on the project or to love a pretty Italian espresso, all alongside one another!”

3CAT-four, Technological College of Catalonia, Spain

3CAT-four cleanroom for distant link

COVID-19 has prevented the threeCAT-four group from viewing their university given that mid-March. They were not capable to spend any time in advance to prepare their services for distant do the job, so rather elected to carry on with their project documentation, as this was the most realistically achievable endeavor. Inevitably, as limitations were peaceful, two group users were capable to check out their lab in purchase to achieve access to their computer system method and FlatSat, which is a unit that contains all the CubeSat elements but mounted on a flat board, generating it helpful for screening and troubleshooting.  

The cherished lab time was also expended configuring a power offer that can be activated remotely, supplying the group manage of both the FlatSat and their suite of Electrical Floor Help Tools (EGSE). This authorized all teammates to accomplish software program improvement and screening while remaining physically distant from the actual components.

Being aware of that this form of distant do the job comes with inherent challenges, the remaining endeavor was to set up a camera so that the group can still have eyes on the components in the lab. With all this do the job completed, the group have been capable to carry on improvement of their CubeSat project safely and securely.

EIRSAT-1, College School Dublin, Ireland

EIRSAT-1 cleanroom livestream

When social distancing limitations initial started, the satellite cleanroom was configured for a single operator to be current permitting for distant functions and product assurance guidance. This was achieved using a non-public YouTube stream to check out the components, and a Cleanroom Discord channel permitting all operators to converse and remotely check out each other’s computer system screens. Now, the cleanroom operates a hundred% remotely. 

The EIRSAT-1 group have been using these new distant capabilities to carry on producing the flight software program and firmware, and to check on real components. Around the past couple months, the group has done a collection of ‘Mini Mission Tests’ in purchase to remotely teach operators and to produce methods for the forthcoming Mission Examination.

Altering to the new ordinary, the group has managed to carry on progressing the satellite documentation with fortnightly ‘Document Update Days’ followed by a spherical of area themed Kahoot! or on the web Pictionary. A scholar from the Gamma-ray Module group organises these routines, adding “I feel it’s essential for the group to remain in make contact with and test in with each other. It’s nice to hold in touch absent from purely do the job-relevant discussions, I feel it assists every little thing sense a bit much more ordinary.”

ISTsat-1, Instituto Excellent Técnico, Portugal

ISTsat-1 Distant FlatSat

The ISTSat-1 group has been functioning from property given that early March, when access to their university campus was initial limited. As it was not achievable to often access the project components, the group relied on its FlatSat to carry on producing software program and screening method features. The good thing is, their FlatSat attributes all the ISTSat-1 subsystems integrated through a focused backplane, dummy antennas connected to the Telemetry, Tracking, & Management (TT&C) ports, a Pluto Computer software Described Radio (SDR) working GNU-Radio software program functioning as a floor station, and an Electrical Floor Help Tools (EGSE)method, which accesses the I2C bus. Every subsystem also attributes a programming interface connected to a Raspberry Pi board. 

This set up has authorized the group to accomplish checks in preparation for the Total Purposeful campaign, though the lockdown has hindered the rate at which these integration checks can get place.

Fly Your Satellite! Third Edition

Meanwhile, teams collaborating in the Third Edition of Fly Your Satellite! are also difficult at do the job, generating progress with their mission models. Currently being at an before phase in the system usually means that they are considerably less impacted by staying unable to access their labs, but they are still possessing to adapt to new strategies of functioning. Learners are collaborating from their homes, while webinars and digital meeting have been organised to seek the advice of with experts.

Congratulations to all the Fly Your Satellite! teams for their perseverance and adaptability permitting them to carry on producing their projects, and guidance each other as teammates, in this kind of challenging and surprising situations.

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