INESC TEC develops a nano-satellite demonstrator to study the ionosphere

NEWSAT is the name of the new INESC TEC project, which aims to develop a nano-satellite demonstrator to study the ionosphere. Created in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, under the MIT Portugal programme, the project led by Stratosphere also includes INEGI and Clarke Modet as members of the national consortium.

INESC TEC’s role in the project will focus on data science, through the Centre for Information Systems and Computer Graphics (CSIG), and on the adoption of technology, through the Centre for Enterprise Systems Engineering (CESE).

With regard to data science, the INESC TEC team will be responsible for defining the scientific concept of the mission. The upper atmosphere that establishes the dynamic interface between Earth and space is essential to understand the transfer of energy in the Earth’s atmosphere. Given the region’s instability, influenced by the weather conditions below and in the space above (space weather), it is a little-known environment, with a lack of direct measurements. The new sensors developed will allow measuring crucial parameters of the upper atmosphere, including the physical characteristics of the ionosphere plasma, and identifying (with high precision) the chemical elements. The CSIG team will develop the concept of the scientific mission that could potentially take place thanks to this new technology, by defining the context and identifying requirements. The researchers will also address aspects related to data management, e.g., the project’s data management plan, and develop data analysis strategies to extract geophysical information from system’s measurements.

Concerning technology transfer, INESC TEC’s influence will involve the development of strategies for the adoption of emerging technologies, since the solutions developed within the scope of NEWSAT generate new markets for services and space applications. CESE researchers will develop a set of specific recommendations that promote the successful adoption of emerging technologies in the development of nano-satellites. The research will help identifying barriers and challenges to the adoption of technologies, assess the maturity (TRL) of the technologies developed and the target-markets, while presenting recommendations on strategies for dissemination and collaboration between institutions dedicated to space.

The activities of the NEWSAT project started in January, with a general meeting online, focused on the review and operationalisation of the first activities of the project.

Coordinated by researcher Susana Barbosa (CSIG/CRAS), INESC TEC’s research team includes Vasco Teles and Gustavo Dalmarco (CESE), Ricardo Henriques and Cristina Ribeiro (CSIG), and the follow-up by António Gaspar (TEC4PARTNERSHIPS).

The INESC TEC researchers mentioned in this news piece are associated with INESC TEC and UP-FEUP.

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