On Sept. 9, 2016, the Bi-Spectral Infrared Optical System (BIROS) fire-detection satellite, developed and built by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), released the Berlin Educational and Experimental Picosatellite (BEESAT-4) into space 515 kilometers above the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago. The 10-centimeter cubic satellite was developed and built by staff and students at the Technical University of Berlin (TU Berlin) and was supported by the DLR Space Administration with funds from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.
BEESAT-4 should now be able to use its onboard Phoenix GPS receiver to gather precise position and orbit-determination information as well as take photographs and individual images of Earth’s surface with a special camera to confirm its position.
“Precise knowledge of the position of the picosatellite is a prerequisite for formation flights for multiple satellites,” explained Sascha Weiss, the BEESAT-4 project leader at TU Berlin. “Multiple satellites enable longer overflight times over ground stations for the transmission of telemetry and payload data. In addition, regions of interest can be flown over multiple times.”
The BEESAT-4 mission builds on the knowledge and experience of previous BEESAT missions. Most of the work isn’t spent on satellite construction, but on developing the complex software.
“With the development and operation of BEESAT-4, we have been able to reinforce the practical aspects of student training at TU Berlin’s Institute of Aerospace,” explained Weiss. “Numerous undergraduates have completed their theses within the scope of the mission.”