The European Space Agency is helping to launch a four-inch square satellite (known as a CubeSat) made of painted plywood, to test how it survives and performs in the harsh conditions of space.
The satellite, known as WISA Woodsat, designed by Arctic Astronautics, will blast off into space on a Lab Electron rocket before the end of 2021.
He will be monitored thanks to his two cameras, one of which has a selfie stick, to see how he deals with the space environment.
In addition to the two cameras, Woodsat has pressure sensors to help monitor the pressure in its cavities and conduct an experiment to test 3D-printed cables in space, powered by nine small solar cells, Space.com reported.
The European Space Agency explained that Woodsat will also contain an amateur radio payload that “allows the transmission of radio signals and images around the world”.
“It was a tight schedule, but we welcomed the opportunity to contribute to Woodsat’s payload in exchange for help in evaluating its suitability for flight,” Riccardo Rambini, head of ESA’s Department of Physics and Chemistry for Materials, said in a statement.
It was Woodsat, the dream of Arctic Astronautics co-founder Gary McKinnon, who came up with the idea of launching a wooden satellite into the stratosphere in 2017.
From there, Makinen wanted to send the satellite into orbit to see if it could handle the rigors of space.
Unlike traditional satellites, which are made largely of aluminum, Woodsat’s base material is birch, the same type of wood that can be found in any hardware store, said Samuli Neiman, chief engineer at Woodsat.
“The main difference is that ordinary plywood is very hygroscopic for aerospace use, so we put our wood in a thermal vacuum chamber to dry it. Then we also deposit the atomic layer, adding a very thin layer of aluminum oxide – commonly used to encapsulate electronics,” Niemann added. from any undesirable fumes of wood, while also protecting against the corrosive effects of atomic oxygen,” according to rt.
Atomic oxygen, or O, which is created when ultraviolet radiation splits oxygen molecules, was first discovered when it eroded the exterior of early space shuttle missions in the 1960s, according to NASA.
Since then, the space agency has devised ways that O not only damage its vehicles, but use it to help life on Earth, such as turning the surface of silicon into glass or salvaging damaged artwork.