This interminable year is finally coming to an end, and so are AS Forlì-Bologna’s events. We are currently preparing to do our best on the approaching exams and to begin organising new exciting events for next semester. While we wait for that moment to arrive, we would like to share the reports of our last two online conferences and our latest special project…
Conference Call on Signal Analysis in Orbit Determination
This month’s first conference was held by an Executive Member of our Local Board and PhD Student at the University of Bologna, Andrea Togni. By working at the Radio Science and Planetary Exploration Laboratory of the university, Andrea was able to talk about the science and technology involved in projects he is currently involved in, like the characterization of ground stations for deep space orbit determination and time frequency analysis of signals from the Jovian system.
First, the ground segment employed in space missions was described; this way, the participants were able to understand why the antennas used by the space agencies need to be so big, as well as what this means from an electromagnetic point of view. Secondly, Andrea presented the modern navigation process and explained why accurate orbit determination requires numerical iterations, as orbital models are compared to the information content of signals transmitted from space probes to understand if there is any error in modelling in the computed dynamic model.
Lastly, some figures of merit were presented so as to give the participants a practical sense of what kind of results are obtained by current Deep Space missions, as well as some examples of Radio Science Experiments that are being carried out in the outer Solar System.
Since the topic of orbit determination is very complex, the speaker aimed at giving the audience just an introduction to it, by presenting the basic systems and mathematical methods involved in the process. Despite the difficulties the feedback from the participants were good; the speaker’s skill of clearly explaining such a wide topic in so little time was most appreciated.
Conference Call on Orbital Transportation - in collaboration with D-Orbit
The final conference was hosted by Marco Bevilacqua, aerospace engineer at D-Orbit, an important young Italian space company that provides solutions that cover the entire lifecycle of a space mission. Marco shared his five years’ experience inside the company, from both personal and technical perspectives, and spoke about the most unexpected sides and challenges within a space mission.
The most recent one was the Origin Mission, in which Marco was responsible for almost every single iteration, starting from the design process, through the verification and ultimately the supervision of the operation. It involved the launch of the ION (In Orbit NOW) platform, a revolutionary payload deployment system for small satellites. Historically, these objects are usually joined to larger satellites, and their displacement in orbit is typically non-coherent, ending in months of waiting time for these to be spread well. D-Orbit has reshaped this concept: their device, hosting up to 64U (1U = 1CubeSat’s unit), controls satellites’ spread in space and time, so that the waiting time for them to be fully operative is reduced to only a few weeks. Moreover, the attitude control is easier because they are evenly distributed in space.
Marco spoke about the main challenges and the solution taken by his team during the development of this project. The most critical point was obviously its realisation, from sketches to flight, and proving that “it works not only on paper, but in space”. In a mere three years they have not only created a new solution for orbital deployment of small satellites, but they have proven it to be cost-effective and reliable. The next generation of ION carriers will raise the bar further, by applying propulsive manoeuvres in order to displace several satellites in different orbits.
Among the delighted feedback we received from the participants, we would like to share the ecstatic one written by Gregorio, from PAS Stockholm: “I think what you are doing is a great opportunity for young students to concretely understand what is going on outside the small and protected environment of the University. The world urges us, as students, to bring innovation and enthusiasm to science and technology. The experience shared by Marco was a perfect example. Starting a project from zero requires courage, patience and tough decisions. However, it is the passion for what you are doing that makes you keep going. Lectures like the one given today help share all these values. Thank you, EUROAVIA Forlì-Bologna. Continue to lift students' passions to the sky!”
A special gift for you
To conclude, we would like to thank whoever participated in our conferences and wish everyone Happy Holidays, a Happy New Year and good luck to your exams. To reinforce this, we’d like to give you our Christmas present: the First Edition of the EUROAVIA Forlì-Bologna Magazine.
Yes! You heard right! It has been a great and demanding challenge, resulting from the joint effort carried out by the Local Board and the willing members of our local Working Groups. Thus, we want to express our gratitude once more to everyone who contributed in making this dream a reality.
In this edition, which you can download on www.euroaviaforlibologna.eu/2020/12/24/our-new-local-magazine, you can read about how Formula 1 improved its safety criteria over the years, the birth of (lunar) quarantine parties, the interview with the new PAS EUROAVIA Stockholm, and much more! And this is just the beginning: the second issue is already scheduled for February 2021!
See you next year, EUROAVIAns!