Optical sensing of atmospheric emissions with Cubesats and Nanosats

Gary Swenson, Purvesh Thakker, Farzad Kamalabadi, Mathew Frank, Victoria Coverstone, Hank Voss

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Small satellites and payloads in the (1-2 kg) class called Cubesats and (20-30 kg) called Nanosats have been under development at the University of Illinois since fall, 2001. The ION1 Cubesat was a 10×10×21.5 cm 3 satellite with the experiment consisting of photometric remote sensing of mesospheric structures (near 94 km) in the O 2 (0,0) band airglow at 762 nm. ION1 development began in 2001 and was lost on the failed launch attempt, July 26, 2006. ION2 development began in Fall 2005, and has a remote sensing experiment to measure Ha (656.3 nm) originating in the Earth's geocorona from which column H densities can be deduced. Taylor University has led the development of a Nanosat called TEST, which was designed to study ionospheric structures. Illinois provided remote sensing payloads including a CCD camera and dual photometers. The development activity is largely implemented by a College of Engineering Interdisciplinary Design class (ENG 491), where students typically participate in the systems engineering experience for two semesters. The students (15-20 average enrollment) are responsible for the design, fabrication, and testing of the systems. This paper describes the development of these Cubesat and Nanosat systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSensors and Systems for Space Applications
StatePublished - 2007
EventSensors and Systems for Space Applications - Orlando, FL, United States
Duration: Apr 9 2007Apr 11 2007

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherSensors and Systems for Space Applications
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityOrlando, FL


  • Airglow
  • Cubesats
  • Education
  • Nanosats
  • Optical imaging
  • Photometry
  • Waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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