* In December, and if all goes as planned, Chile will be in orbit with the first 100% national nanosatellite. Dr. Marcos Díaz, a team member, told CEFOP-UDEC how this experience was and his aspirations for the the future.
In little more than a month, researchers of the of Space and Planetary Exploration Laboratory (SPEL), of the Faculty of Physical Sciences and Mathematics of the University of Chile, may see their creation enter orbit; the first satellite developed entirely in our country, SUCHAI (satellite of the University of Chile for aerospace investigation).
Dr. Marcos Díaz, Coordinator and permanent member of the team in charge of SUCHAI, visited our Center, where he explained that this technology is a platform that has among its objectives to test components and technologies for space. He added that it “also is a quick and inexpensive platform to do experiments. There are people who like to do science, who want to do some exploration at low cost, and this is one good alternative.”
At the same time, if Chile is positioning itself to enter the space race, this project is ideal for training new engineers and a low cost option to educate people in the chain of manufacture of a satellite, Diaz added.
Support from the big leagues
This “cubesat”, will be put into orbit by a Falcon 9 rocket, of the private company SpaceX, from the platform occupied by that company in Southern California.
Marcos Díaz explained that although this would be the first satellite to enter into orbit with a Chilean “patent”, this technology is quite developed in the United States, Japan, Russia and the European Community. However, we are not so far behind, “for countries like us, this can allow us to move on to more significant programs.”
Among the applications that can be obtained with this kind of nanosatellite, are the observations of distinct frequencies which, “can be optical, or other, but it is the observation of the Earth. Now, as these are of a lesser size, lenses are smaller, so the image quality is less; but if you examine a constellation, as its cheaper, the satellite can make more passes for the same place. Then, although you lose resolution, you can see changes more often. In this context, it can help, or complement, the satellites with better spatial resolution, saying ‘look, here in this area something entertaining is happening, focus there’,” the engineer of the University Chile said.
On a more academic note, Diaz reflected that he would like to be able to provide the country with human capital and knowledge to develop a program that allows for a constellation of various civilian applications Chile, “and hopefully we can coordinate this at the Latin American level, because we are a similar community, with similar problems, and we are highly dependent on the strengths in this area, to what is delivered and sold to us.”
More information at spel.ing.uchile.cl