February 4, 2023

Solar and Space Physics UNIToV

Gruppo di Fisica Solare e Spaziale Università di Roma Tor Vergata

SUNCUTE – SUN CUbesats for ThErmosphere High Energy

The investigation  of the Space Weather disturbances in thermosphere is crucial to space-related applications, from space mission design to re-entry operations, space surveillance and debris dynamics and distribution evolution. Thermosphere is directly impacted by solar activity through the high energy solar radiation UV-EUV-X-ray input and, through the solar wind and plasma fluxes impacting Earth’s magnetosphere.
A mission is proposed whose space segment is composed by two 12U cubesats, SUNCUTE#1 and SUNCUTE#2. No constraint exist on the relative positioning of the two satellites.
SUNCUTE#1 is dedicated to the monitoring and measurements of SWE events impacting thermosphere, with on board the UV (280nm) solar imager for signal decomposition and SiPMs detectors, operating in the EUV (120 nm) and X-ray (3 KeV) for measuring the integrated solar signal. This satellite must have pointing accuracies of approximately better than 1 degree.
SUNCUTE#2 will provide measures of the density of the thermosphere and contains sensors for particle detection, measurements of acceleration and other data for signal correction.

No constraint exist on the relative positioning of the two satellites. A preliminary missionan alysis is provided, in order to fulfil the science objectives, SUNCUTE#1 and SUNCUTE#2 can be flown on SSO circular Orbits, at 400 Km altitude, a first feasibility of the mission is reported and identifying, for each of the mission phases,  the necessary trade-offs which will be performed during the study. The most critical aspect of the mission is the orbital stability, for which specific strategies and technological solutions are proposed for optimizing mission costs and have a lifetime of at least 1 year, in order to guarantee its scientific objectives. The GS and the User Segment of the mission is  presented,  based on the U-Dragon Network, a flexible ground segment for microsat and cubesat developed by Telespazio,  which will be customized for the proposed mission.

SUNCUBE is a project born from the collaboration between: TELESPAZIO, Department of Physics of the University of Rome Tor Vergata, INFN Tor Vergata and Politecnico di Milano (PoliMI)