Illinois Tiny Satellite Initiative

University of Illinois @ Urbana-Champaign
 ION Information Sheet



 Interesting Facts About the Illinois Observing Nanosatellite (ION)

ION is…

• The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s first student-developed satellite

• The first satellite completely developed in the state of Illinois …as far as we know

• A fully independent spacecraft

• A double CubeSat (smaller than a shoebox at 4” x 4” x 8”)

• Launching from Baikonur, Kazakhstan using the Russian DNEPR-1 launch vehicle, a converted ICBM

ION was built…

• Entirely by U of I students including project leadership, design, development, and testing

• Over the course of four years

• By 100 students across 7 engineering disciplines including Electrical, Computer, Aerospace, Computer Science, Mechanical, Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, and General Engineering

• By a combination of undergraduate (3/4) and graduate students (1/4)

ION’s missions include…

• Measuring molecular oxygen airglow emissions in the Earth’s mesosphere

• Performing the first space test of Alameda’s micro-vacuum arc thrusters

• Performing the first space test of Tether Application’s SID processor board

• Performing Earth imaging using a CMOS camera

• Demonstrating attitude stabilization on a CubeSat

ION has…

• A photometer, a CMOS camera, batteries, solar panels, a processor, memory, an antenna, a radio, a modem, thrusters, torque coils, a 3 axis magnetic field sensor, temperature sensors, voltage and current sensors, etc…

• A custom power system, attitude control system, operating system, file system, and communications protocol

• A ground station on campus with an active antenna tracking system

ION went through…

• Functional testing

• Environmental testing including vibration and thermal-vacuum

• Integrated system operational testing

• A bake out procedure

ION’s space development challenges include…

• Overcoming strict resource limitations on space, mass, power, data transfer, expertise, and funding

• Protecting components from radiation that causes upsets and erosion

• Avoiding depressurization problems (out gassing) that leads to component failures and clouded optics

• Adjusting for Doppler shift in communications frequency as the satellite passes overhead at 8 km/s

• Distributing heat without air convection

Students working on ION learn…

• Specific technical skills in their specialty area

• How to build complex systems like satellites

• To work with engineers from other disciplines

• To work on a large multi-team project

• Teamwork, leadership, formal and informal communication skills

The CubeSat community…

• Has over forty universities registered with plans to develop CubeSats since about 1999

• Cooperates to launch hardware together and shares technical information openly

• Has launched six CubeSats so far with 14 planned on the next launch (including ION)

• Can perform high risk missions that commercial and government organizations cannot

• Can develop satellites in as little as 1 to 2 years


Private Links: [ION Dashboard] [Wiki] [Files] (Login: "UIUC\netid", Password: UIUC Active Directory Password)