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Two years in operation

INPE nanosatellite: spending longer in space than expected

Léo RamosINPE nanosatellite: spending longer in space than expectedLéo Ramos

NanosatC-Br1, the first Brazilian nanosatellite, completed two years of operations in space on June 19, 2016. Weighing less than one kilogram, the nanosatellite was designed and built by researchers at the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), in collaboration with the Federal University of Santa Maria (UFSM), in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. The BR1, as it is called, continues to transmit data on changes in the Earth’s magnetic field, collected by one of its onboard instruments, a magnetometer, to the INPE receiving stations and to amateur radio operators in Brazil and other countries (see Pesquisa FAPESP Issue nº 219). According to engineer Otávio Durão, a researcher on the INPE nanosatellite team, two years of continuous operation is longer than expected: “Our expectation was that the nanosatellite could operate for a minimum of three months and a maximum of one year.” The survival rate is uncertain. “It depends on the ability of the components to withstand the high-energy particles in space.” The INPE team, led by physicist Nelson Jorge Schuch, is now working on NanosatC-Br2, with more equipment, some of it built at INPE in partnership with businesses run by former students. The launch is planned for the first half of 2017.