AlbertaSat - The Building of Experimental Albertan #1 (Ex-Alta 1)

A CubeSat leaving NASA's Nanoracks Deployer

NASA's NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer.

Science and engineering students have built and launched Alberta's first space satellite (the Ex-Alta 1) as part of QB50, an international mission that has launched 50 "CubeSat" satellites designed by universities from around the globe.

The Ex-Alta 1 satellite has provided a platform for the University of Alberta to demonstrate their digital fluxgate magnetometer in a space environment.

The AlbertaSat team, with guidance from Ian Mann (Physics) and Carlos Lange (Engineering), has built and launched a miniaturized version of a fluxgate magnetometer. This essential tool for conducting solar-terrestrial research and monitoring space weather provides high-precision measurements of the Earth's magnetic field. This mission will provide additional in-flight time to an instrument with broad utility for future Canadian and international flights on small payloads.

The QB50 mission, led by the von Karman Institute in Belgium, made space history through the launch of a network of 50 CubeSats built by university teams to perform first-class science in the largely unexplored lower thermosphere. The creation of the first satellite designed and built by AlbertaSat signifies the starting point in the development of an aerospace program at the University of Alberta. The program's long-term goal is to create a thriving aerospace industry in Alberta. This will diversify the province's economy while building on its technological, scientific and engineering expertise.

Ex-Alta 1 Deployment

Ex-Alta 1 Deployment

Fast Facts

  • Ex-Alta 1 is the largest satellite in the QB50 mission
    It measures 30 x 10 x 10 cm and weighs 2.64 kg
  • It will orbit the Earth at an altitude of 415 km for up to 18 months before burning up during re-entry

  • Ex-Alta 1 has four payloads:
    • A probe to study space weather by precisely measuring electron density
    • The Digital Fluxgate Magnetometer which measures magnetic signatures in space weather
    • A radiation dosimeter which routinely monitors radiation of the spacecraft
    • Athena: an open-source program to run cube satellites

Featured AlbertaSat News


Democratizing the space race with nanosatellite technology

AlbertaSat will bring home world-class data using smaller-than-ever instruments with the fluxgate magnetometer on the Ex-Alta 1 CubeSat.


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Experimental Albertan #1 (Ex-Alta 1) Satellite

Alberta's first satellite boldly goes to work

Ex-Alta 1 launch signals new era of space weather exploration and brings the University of Alberta and the province into space for the first time.


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Small but mighty: Alberta's first satellite starts its journey toward final launch

It was a champagne send-off for one of the University of Alberta's smallest but mightiest devices yet.


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Why CubeSats?

  • A CubeSat is a miniaturized satellite
    usually in units of approx. 10x10x10 cm, each weighing 1 kg; typically cube satellites are either 1, 2 or 3 of these units
  • AlberaSat features all standard functions of a large satellite
    including deploying a boom or solar panels
  • Efficient use of space
    CubeSats are fast to develop and far less expensive to build and launch than a large satellite
  • Strength in numbers
    A single CubeSat is too small to carry very high-fidelity sensors or multi-instrument payloads for significant scientific research, but a large number of CubeSats with identical sensors can be combined into a network to collect the unique multi-point nature of data in space.

Ex-Alta 1 Assembly

Ex-Alta 1 Assembly