Space Weather Effects: the AtmoCube Experiment

AtmoCube is a "CubeSat" class nano-satellite (with 10 cm sides, weighing less than 1 kg and made of aluminium) built entirely at the University of Trieste, through a close collaboration between the Departments of Physics and Industrial and Information Engineering. The initiative has involved both researchers and students in an activity with a broad interdisciplinary reach, and is designed to provide information of great interest to scientists: in fact, the instruments on board the satellite will make it possible to study certain phenomena related to so-called Space Weather and its effects on technological systems (telecommunication networks and power grids) as well as on biological ones.

AtmoCube is an innovative system of measurement for studying the Earth's space environment above 350 km altitude. The project, started in 2006, has yielded more than 30 Bachelor and Master's theses in the Departments involved, and work intensified considerably in 2009, when the European Space Agency agreed to launch AtmoCube on board VEGA, the new Italo-European launcher, including AtmoCube among the nine CubeSat satellites to be launched on VEGA's maiden flight. Unlike the other CubeSats, AtmoCube is entirely built by our group with the fundamental contribution of the students to highlight the educational characteristics of the project. This approach did not allow us to meet the requirements and the timing imposed by ESA but the program continues with the same spirit. 

The project is particularly suitable for a possible spin-off program for the development of pico-satellites (the project PicoSaTs derived from AtmoCube was selected during the 2012  "Campus d'Impresa" call, a support program for the creation of spin off funded by AREA Science Park, Innovation Factory and the University of Trieste). Indeed AtmoCube is a compact, light-weight mission, also for the limited number of development phases involved and for the interchangeable equipment that can be placed on board. It can certainly be considered a precursor to a whole series of small scientific missions aimed at very low-cost analysis of the Earth's atmosphere.

Head of Research Group
Anna Gregorio


Last update: 09-17-2021 - 18:50