Microsatellites Send Pictures From Space

Designed to be quickly developed and cost less than conventional satellites, microsatellites such as Hodoyoshi-3 & 4 could be the future of Earth observation.

AsianScientist (Aug. 6, 2014) – Hodoyoshi-3 & 4, two Japanese microsatellites, have begun transmitting images of earth from space. These images are now available for viewing on Facebook and YouTube.

Developed by the University of Tokyo under the FIRST program of Cabinet Office of Japan, the two microsatellites were from the Dnepr Launch Vehicle at Yasny Launch Base in Russia. This research was led by Professor Shinichi Nakasuka in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the University’s Graduate School of Engineering.

The Earth, as seen by Hodoyoshi 3 & 4.
The Earth, as seen by Hodoyoshi 3 & 4.

Hodoyoshi-3 and 4 are a proof-of-concept in innovative satellite development, which until now has required enormous amounts of money and long periods of time. By reducing the cost per satellite to less than three million US dollars and development time below two years, researchers expect that novel space utilizations and new space users will appear, creating an industry of space development and novel applications. For example, low cost and quick development satellites will enable frequent Earth observation using a large number of satellites or the concept of the “personal satellite.”

Hodoyoshi-3 has 40 m and 200 m GSD (ground sample distance) cameras and Hodoyoshi-4 has a 6m GSD camera to capture Earth remote sensing images. Both satellites have “Store & Forward” communication systems to receive various sensor data on ground by RF signal as well as “Rental Space” to accommodate user-specified objects in several 10 cm cubic spaces in each satellite. These satellites have a mass of approximately 60 kg and demonstrate the feasibility of practical applications for micro-satellites in space.

Newly developed advanced components such as a high speed X-band transmitter and ion propulsion system will also be tested on Hodoyoshi-4. A “Heterogeneous Constellation” experiment, testing the use of two satellites with different capabilities in the same orbital plane, will also be carried out.


Source: University of Tokyo.
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