Multi-mission Nanospacecraft


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The project aims to demonstrate a concept for advanced nano-spacecrafts attaching to lightsails and using the possibility of light-powered space travel at high speeds (significant fraction of light speed), and advanced nanotechnology. Along with theirs nanolanders (nanorobots) that can withstand extreme environment of planets and moons, these nano-spacecrafts will perfom these detailed studies :

  • Enable relevant planetary science measurements (viability of microorganismes, reactivity, climate….) using vertically aligned multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) and Machine Learning.
  • Study charged particle dynamics in geospace.
  • Locate, track, follow-up observations and deflect NEO objects (asteroids, comets) before they impact with earth using Machine Learning and the process of Laser Ablation to both mechanize and accelerate the speed of detection, characterization and deflection.
  • Cleaning space by getting rid of all large pieces of satellite debris using electrodynamic tether.
  • Ultra-fast light driven nano-sapcecraft can also allow a mission to reach the Oort cloud, the nearest stars and their exo-planets (in just few years).

Moreover, this project guarantee a low-cost execution of critical missions, and that will be gainful in all sides.


The Multi-Mission Nanospacecraft prototype

To validate the architecture, The pathfinder mission is using a standard 3U CubeSat with a size of 10 cm x 10 cm x 30 cm and a mass of < 5 kg. Currently, we are working on an extensive use of MWCNT-based composite structures.

ADCS (Attitude Determination and Control Subsystem)

The ADCS consists of a set of sensors, actuators and a microcontroller with the algorithms, utilizing a combination of a single pitch wheel and four torque coils. The attitude knowledge is derived through a combination of sun sensors and a magnetometer. The ADCS demonstrate the following capabilities :

  • Detumbling of the satellite fromorbit injection from initial rates up to 10 °/s to less than 0.2 °/s.
  • Align the satellite with an accuracy of 3° to the sun vector, the velocity vector, the magnetic field and nadir.
  • Slewing manoeuvre for ground station tracking of the S-band antenna with 5° accuracy.

Power and Thermal management

A set of four double-sided, MWCNT flexible solar arrays are oriented such that there is no spacecraft orientation in which energy generation is not possible. Across all sun-orbit beta angles, the system is capable of generating greater than 6 W of orbit average power. To maximize electric power transfer between the solar cell strings and the lower-voltage spacecraft power bus (battery), a peak-power-tracking power converter, developed particularly for nanospacecrafts, is used. Several DC–DC converters produce regulated bus voltages for use by the spacecraft and payload. A high-capacity lithium ion battery supports mission operations that require as much as 50 W peak power for durations up to 10 min per orbit, including during eclipse.

Command and Data Handling

To provide scalable processing capability for the Nanospacecraft command and data handling subsystem, a radiation-hard Aeroflex 32 bit LEON 3-FT processor is used. The LEON processor-based avionics, with its associated circuitry, is capable of extended operation under extremely stressing radiation, both total ionizing dose and single-event upsets and latchups, and environmental conditions


Nanospacecrafts X-band communications system is the spacecraft’s link to Deep Space Network (DSN), returning science data, exchanging commands and status information, and allowing for precise radiometric tracking through NASA’s Deep Space Network of antenna stations.


  • Nature-Inspired DNA Nanosensor for Real-Time in Situ Detection of mRNA in Living Cells : Rapid and precise in situ detection of gene expressions within a single cell is highly informative and offers valuable insights into its state.
  • UV-Vis Spectrometer / Biology growth-&-analysis system : Astrobiology -- viability of microorganisms and astrobiologically relevant organics over 6-month space exposure.
  • RASIR: Reactivity Analyzer for Soil, Ices, & Regolith (In Development) : a 1U Optical Sensor Array to Measure Extraterrestrial Soil Chemistry, it measure chemical processes that alter or remove organics from the environment of interest and Correlate organic inventory measured by other payload instruments to soil reactivity levels.

Machine Learning

Nanospacecrafts use Machine Learning to :

- Compare data of microorganism existing on earth to extraterrestial microorganism (ex : in europa moon)

- Remove known false positives

- Align astrometry of newly observed objects

  • Machine Learning area : Reinforcement learning : the Nanospacecrafts ought to take the actions (algorithms) in a particular environment
  • Parametric method :

fB = 0.03 x E-4/5 , fB : annual frequency of impact, E : energy of impact

R = Pi / fB x DT , R : relative risk, Pi : probability of impact, DT : time (year)

PS = log10 x R , PS : Palerme Scale

  • Predicting position and impact :

PS < -2→ no risk

-2 <PS < 0 → possible risk

PS > 0 → a threat

NEOs Deflection

The NEOs deflection method consists in focusing sunlight onto an asteroid with space-based mirrors wich heat the asteroid’s surface to more than 2100° C to start vaporising it.

Cleaning space

The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency proposes to use an electrodynamic tether whose current would slow down the speed of satellites or space debris, slowing the satellite speed would make it gradually fall closer to Earth, where it will burn up.

Laser-Ablation Propulsion : A More Practical Concept

LASER ablation propulsion (LAP) is a major new electric propulsion concept. . In LAP, an intense laser beam [pulsed or continuous wave (CW)] strikes a condensed matter surface and produces a jet of vapor or plasma. Nanopacecrafts can be propelled in this way. So this propulsion system pushed sails, allow the possibility of fuel-free propulsion in space. This makes possible missions to a nearby star.

  • Sails :

Material : Mylar

Thickness : 4.5 microns

Layout : Four triangular sails forming a square, connected with four tape-measure-like booms.

Boom length : 4 m

LightSail width : 5.6 m

Total sail area : 32 m²

The entire lightsail structure would be accelerated at 30% of Earth gravity by 43,000 terrawatts of laser power. At this acceleration, the lightsail would reach a velocity of half the speed of light (150000 km/ s) in 1.6 years.

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