TechDemoSat-1, which was launched in 2014 to test some latest in-orbit technologies, has finally reached the end of its life. Preparations are now made to bring it down and for that, a drag sail has been deployed.
The drag sail is a huge membrane, which will catch the residual molecules of the air at an altitude of 635 km. Its function is to drag the satellite back into the atmosphere of the Earth. Once the satellite enters the atmosphere it will burn up.
TechDemoSat-1 was made by Guildford-based Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL) while Cranfield University came up with the 6.7 sq meters long Kapton drag sale, which is named Icarus-1.
The project was partly funded by Innovate UK and was jointly operated and controlled by SSTL as well as by the Satellite Applications Catapult (SAC) in Harwell. The satellite went up with eight payloads, and they included one, which developed by the students for measuring high energy space particles.
Among all the experiments that TechDemoSat-1 had conducted during her lifespan, the most memorable one was the SSE or Sea State Experience. The experiment involved the use of a GPR receiver, which was used as radar for monitoring the reflection of GPS signals off the surface of the oceans around the world. The experiment was a huge success and helped scientists by acting as a powerful tool for assessing the roughness of the ocean. The experiment also helped in gauging the direction and strength of wind over the ocean surface.
Another huge success of the TDS-1 was the reflectometry experiment. The findings of this experiment were later implemented while designing instruments for the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS), which was flown by the US Space Agency.
The main objective of CYGNSS was to peer through the hurricanes to assist in forecasting the velocity of winds at the time of landfall.
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