World’s first wooden satellite to be launched from New Zealand

Context

  • The European Space Agency (ESA) has planned to put the world’s first wooden satellite, WISA Woodsat, on Earth’s orbit by the end of this year.

About world’s first wooden satellite

  • The mission of the satellite is to test the applicability of wooden materials like plywood in spacecraft structures and expose it to extreme space conditions, such as heat, cold, vacuum and radiation, for an extended period of time.
  • It will be launched to space by the end of 2021 with a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from the Mahia Peninsula launch complex in New Zealand.

    World's first wooden satellite
    Source: Space.com

  • The satellite, designed and built in Finland will orbit at around 500-600 km altitude in a roughly polar Sun-synchronous orbit.
  • WISA Woodsat is a 10x10x10 cm nano satellite built up from standardised boxes and surface panels made from plywood, the same material that is found in a hardware store or to make furniture.
  • Woodsat’s only non-wooden external parts are corner aluminium rails used for its deployment into space and a metal selfie stick.
  • The good thing here is we have ended up devising a low-cost device that could find all kinds of further uses, both in orbit and down on the ground in test environments,

Aluminum oxide

  • Aluminum oxide, a chemical compound typically used to encapsulate electronics, will help to prevent the wood from releasing any gas in the space environment, according to Nymanm.
  • It will also protect the surface against the exposure to corrosive atomic oxygen, which can be found at the fringes of the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • This type of oxygen, created when strong UV radiation from the sun splits normal oxygen molecules, was first discovered after it damaged the thermal blankets of NASA’s early Space Shuttle missions. 

Source: TH


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