February 16, 2021


Testing hyper-optical components and a mini particle detector in orbit
Prime contractorISAE-Supaero – CSU Toulouse
Launch dateScheduled 2021
Launch baseTo be defined
OrbitLow Earth, elliptical polar (apogee > 1,500 km)
Mission lifetimeEnviron 2 years

Still in its preliminary phase, the NimphSat project (Nanosatellite to Investigate Microwave Photonics Hardware) is being led by the Toulouse University Space Centre (CSU) while also offering opportunities for collaboration between student projects and industry and research partners. On this 3U cubesat, Thales Alenia Space, CERN and the LAAS systems analysis and architecture laboratory at CNRS are working with students towards the ambitious goal of measuring solar radiation inside and outside the Van Allen belts above Earth’s poles, as well as proving a hyper-optical component concept.

On NimphSat, a sensor called RADMON (RADiation MONitoring) developed by CERN research will be miniaturized and carried alongside EDMON (Erbium Dop MONitoring), a sensor developed by CNES and Thales Alenia Space. The satellite’s specific orbit will give scientists a set of unique measurements of how solar radiation interacts with Earth’s magnetosphere.

Students are relaying one another on the project and keenly aware of the need to comply with the French Space Operations Act (FSOA), which requires satellites to re-enter the atmosphere less than 25 years after completing their mission. With the apogee of its orbit at 1,500 kilometres, it will be a challenge for a 3U cubesat to meet this requirement without propulsion, due to the lack of atmospheric drag at this altitude. Passive or active devices might have to be conceived to brake the satellite.