February 16, 2021


Studying the zodiacal light and the Milky Way
Launch date18 December 2019
Launch baseGuiana Space Centre
OrbitSun-synchronous, 500 km
Mission lifetimeAbout 12 months

EyeSat is a 3U cubesat (34x10x10 cm) built as a pilot under the Nanolab-Academy project. The satellite comprises two parts: a mini-telescope designed to accomplish the science mission and a platform accommodating a set of housekeeping systems to operate the satellite on orbit (power management, temperature control, attitude control, etc.).

EyeSat was developed by more than 200 students from engineering schools and universities, most of them interns at CNES or partner organizations.

The detailed design phase was closed out in March 2016. The qualification model underwent mechanical, thermal and electromagnetic environment testing in the summer of 2018. The flight model was assembled in April 2019 and tested in May in readiness for launch at the end of 2019.

EyeSat’s mission is to study the zodiacal light and image the Milky Way. It plans to operate for one year and generate more than 450 Gigabytes of data. The zodiacal light is the tenuous light created by sunlight reflecting off interplanetary dust grains. EyeSat will measure the intensity and polarization of this light in four spectral bands—red, green, blue and near-infrared—at an estimated resolution better than 2°.

This mission will be accomplished by IRIS (Imager Realized for Interplanetary dust Study), composed of:

  • a baffle to limit stray light entering the instrument
  • an entrance telescope to collect light flux in a given direction and form a sharp image of the field of view on the detector
  • a set of filters arranged on two wheels, the first carrying spectral filters and the second polarization filters, both driven by a stepper motor
  • a CMOS colour detector to measure the light signal
  • proximity electronics to command the stepper motor and measure the position of the filter wheels

Besides its science mission, EyeSat will also demonstrate 10 new technologies that are mostly the product of CNES’s R&D. These will include, for example, a flight computer based on Zynq, X-band telemetry and composite hinges.

The ground segment for the EyeSat mission comprises four subsystems:

  • a Command & Control Centre (CCC) at ISAE-SUPAERO
  • a Mission Centre (CM) at ENAC
  • an S-band ground station (STC, part of CNES’s 2-GHz network) at Aussaguel
  • an X-band ground station (Telemetry Earth Terminal X-band or TETX) at ENAC

System architecture for EyeSat data transmission. Credits: CNES