The first satellite made entirely in Chile reached its goal by far. After 457 days of operation in space, the Suchai 1 nanosatellite technical team completed the first stage of data collection.
At the moment, the cubesat continues to orbit the Earth and sent the researchers from the Laboratory of Space Exploration and Planetary (LEEP) of the Faculty of Physical and Mathematical Sciences of the U. of Chile between June 2017 and October 2018. The merit is not less , because only 5% of this type of nanossatellites – of 10 cm3 – survive beyond a year in space.
In all this time, the Suchai accumulated 338.7 million kilometers and 7,838 laps around the planet. "The main learning we have achieved was to demonstrate that we can develop technology for studies in and out of space in Chile and that this type of technology is viable with the budgets we have in the country and therefore we can accelerate the processes of space innovation" , said the academic Marcos Diaz, leader of the space project.
The nanosatellite carried out studies of space physics, mainly in the ionosphere, besides technical tests with structures, electronic components, materials and flight software.
One of his successes was to demonstrate that small satellites can obtain data similar to larger ones by studying the South Atlantic Anomaly, a hostile place where the magnetic field is weaker and the flow of high energy particles sent from the Sun is larger. Along with this, Suchai has made it possible to determine that the environment in orbit of the Earth, 505 kilometers of altitude, is not as hostile as the researchers supposed, but oscillates between 7 and 20 degrees.
So far, the research team continues to work on the upcoming SUCAI II and III, and eventually on new nanosatellites, if the proposed Space Program, led by the University of Chile, is approved. "We have been able to contribute to space science at a reasonable cost to the country, showing that these advances are not only of interest to Chile, but also to the region and to the world," Diaz concludes.