What’s In a CubeSat?

Learn more about satellite engineering through a deeper look at our model.

Our cubesat, what's it look like?

an UMSATS satellite prototype

A 3U CubeSat measures 10 x 10 x 30 centimetres. Our satellite structure is a modular stacking design, with a total of 4 modules that house the different subsystems. All the subsystems work together to support the payload experiments and keep the satellite in the best working condition.

an UMSATS satellite prototype, just the outside.
an UMSATS satellite prototype, colour coded by section.

The payload system contains all the experiments we are conducting on the satellite. Obtaining scientific measurements and results is our main mission objective.

Scientific Payload

a virtual rendering of a satellite payload, the walls are clear so that everything inside the rectangular box is visiable
a graph showing the House Meteorite Samples, Expose Meteorites to Sunlight, Measure Meteorite Reflectance, House Gnomon Experiment, Photograph Meteorites and Gnomon, Send Data to Storage.

The payload module shown here has a tray that contains various meteorite samples and a gnomon. The experiment involves sending micro-meteorites back into space, and the camera takes pictures to see how they change over time in space. This helps scientists better understand the data from the NASA OSIRIS-Rex mission.

The Gnomon

A Gnomon in the payload works like a sundial. You can measure the sunlight angle by measuring the length of the shadow.

A diagram of a sundial catching the sun's rays, the shadow is measured.
A diagram of a gnomon capturing the sun's rays using a camera and a reflection.

The meteorite photos must be taken with a sunlight incidence angle of 30 degrees. The experiment here was designed by students from the Interlake School Division.

What are the subsystem’s main functions and responsibilities?

Attitude Determination & Control
                    Spacecraft Stabilization
                    Spacecraft Orientation and Actuation
                    Orbit Propagation
                    Collect Attitude Sensor Data
                    Calculate Sun Vector Angle
Command & Data Handling   
                    + Flight Software
                        Control All Subsystems
                        Execute Ground Station Commands
                        Schedule Satellite Tasks
                        Collect and Store Payload Data
                        Collect and Store Satellite State Data
                        Send Stored Data for Transmission
                        Control Spacecraft Modes of Operation
                    Receive Commands from Ground Station
                    Encode and Decode Transmissions
                    Transmit Payload Data to Ground
                    Transmit Satellite State Data to Ground 
                    Communicate with On-Board Computer
Ground Station
                    Issue Commands to the Satellite
                    Encode and Decode Communications
                     Receive Satellite Transmissions
                    Satellite Tracking
                    Involve Amateur Radio Operators
Mechanical Structure
                    Protect the Satellite During Launch
                    Secure All Other Subsystems
                    Deploy Deployables
                    Provide Radiation Protection
                    Be a Good Box
                    Generate and Store Power
                    Distribute Power to All Subsystems
                    Monitor Power Usage
                    Different Power Saving Modes
                    Control Start-Up Activities
Thermal Control
                    Provide Cooling to Satellite Components
                    Provide Heating to Satellite Components
                    Thermally Isolate Components

Email any questions or inquiries to info(at)umstarlab(dot)ca