Open Cosmos Signs NanoMagSat Contract With ESA31st May 2022
Harwell based satellite solutions company Open Cosmos signed a £4.4 million (€5.2 million) contract with the European Space Agency, the company tweeted on the 30th of May. The contract focuses on overcoming mechanical challenges associated with the NanoMagSat mission. NanoMagSat succeeds Earth observation projects such as Oersted and CHAMP. It will supplement and eventually replace the Swarm mission, which was launched in 2013.
Designing the NanoMagSat set of satellites involves solving a number of mechanical engineering puzzles. For example, the extendable boom found on the NanoMagSat satellites needs to cover a very small footprint when collapsed. It must also utilize materials that ensure magnetic cleanliness. All satellites in the constellation need very muted electromagnetic signatures as well.
The current project funding covers three years. The consortium put together to realise the NanoMagSat project then moves to a mission concept phase which should total under £ 25.5 million (€ 30 million).
Studying Earth’s magnetic field
The ESA sees the NanoMagSat constellation as the latest in a series of projects to study Earth’s magnetic field. The current set of satellites, called ESA Swarm, uncovered data that changed our understanding of the ionosphere as well as the Earth’s magnetic field. The project broadened researchers’ vision of how the ionosphere and magnetic field interact with terrestrial phenomena. Moreover, researchers utilized Swarm data to show how they protect life on Earth from solar radiation.
ESA Swarm began operations in space in 2013. If the Swarm satellites are still functioning when the NanoMagSat constellation begins functioning, they will work in conjunction. NanoMagSat is being designed with that possibility in mind. Scalability and connectivity with future satellites to enhance performance are part of the plan for the project.
Open Cosmos Vice President of Institutional Partnerships & Future Missions at Open Cosmos Florian Deconinck described the importance of NanoMagSat in a press release.
“This contract is a landmark for Open Cosmos and for the NanoMagSat mission concept. It is a concrete step towards making this mission concept feasible which if implemented would complement and expand on the results from renown missions like Oersted, CHAMP or Swarm. More generally it illustrates how ESA, the industry and academia can work together to show the potential of future micro-satellite constellation missions to significantly contribute towards big scientific challenges.”