Student-made Satellite: Farewell to Ex-Alta 1

Join us as we look back at the achievements of UAlberta student group AlbertaSat's cube satellite-and find out what comes next for the team.

Andrew Lyle - 06 November 2018

A look back at the achievements of Ex-Alta 1.

A look back at the accomplishments of AlbertaSat and Ex-Alta 1.

University of Alberta student group AlbertaSat designed, built, and launched the first made-in-Alberta satellite: Ex-Alta 1. Now, its mission complete, Ex-Alta 1 is scheduled to burn up in the atmosphere.

163 students from the Faculty of Science, Faculty of Engineering, and across the University of Alberta were involved in the project, building a cube satellite, or "cubesat", Ex-Alta 1 is roughly the size of a shoebox. The compact design and scheduled burn-up help keep the cost of conducting space science down.

In May of 2017, the intrepid satellite was launched from the International Space Station and began its work as part of the international cubesat mission QB50. For 18 months, Ex-Alta 1 and its 38 companion satellites from universities all around the globe monitored space weather in the lower thermosphere.

Powerful solar storms can have destructive effects on satellites in orbit around Earth and even electrical infrastructure on the ground. The potential cost of a severe storm is estimated at $2 trillion in the US alone-making space weather an important subject of study.

Ex-Alta 1 weathered 91 solar storms during its mission, as it diligently recorded and transmitted data to the AlbertaSat team. The cubesat orbited Earth 8,301 times and travelled over 300 million kilometers in space.

One mission complete-and another begins

Now, its mission complete, Ex-Alta 1 is scheduled to burn up in the atmosphere, but AlbertaSat's mission is far from over.

The team is already hard at work on Ex-Alta 2, a successor satellite that will focus on a new mission: wildfire monitoring. Equipped with imaging technology, Ex-Alta 2 will predict, track, and assess the aftereffects of wildfires.

The AlbertaSat team is hard at work-but there's more to be done. $375,000 is needed to support wildfire monitoring through Ex-Alta 2. Once in orbit, Ex-Alta 2 will provide valuable data for wildfire scientists and first responders-a mission AlbertaSat selected in response to the Slave Lake and Fort McMurray wildfires.

Want to learn more about AlbertaSat and the cube satellite projects, or want to know how you can support Ex-Alta 2? Visit the AlbertaSat website to learn more.