Suomi 100 satellite was launched to orbit on 3 December 2018 aboard the SSO-A mission carrying several other micro and nanosatellites. The signal from satellite was captured at the Aalto university ground station during the first good flyover in early hours of 4 December and the satellite is (in February 2019) functioning as planned.
The name of the satellite, Suomi 100, refers to the centenary of Finland’s independence that was celebrated throughout year 2017. "Suomi" is Finland in Finnish.
This satellite was planned to be a part of the diverse and ambitious centenary programme, emphasising Finland’s strengths, history and future; Finland was raised from poor agriculture country to one of the highest developed countries in the world only by cooperation, strength, science and technology.
Thus Suomi 100 satellite wanted to raise our eyes to the sky and future, celebrating the Finnish scientific and technical knowhow and bringing together academia and laypersons. The satellite was and is literally the highest flying project of the centenary celebrations.
The satellite, using the 1U bus acquired from GOMspace that was modified and attached with the instruments developed at the Aalto university, was ready for launch on time. Originally the launch should have taken place with the Indian PSLV rocket in fall 2017, but that was delayed first to end of the year, and then indefinitely because of the launch accident that took place in August 2017.
After several delays and incertitude about the launch time, a new launch opportunity with the SpaceX Falcon 9 was arranged. This launch was again delayed, but took finally place from Vandenberg AFB in California on 3 December.
Listening and looking at the auroras
The Suomi 100 satellite has also an interesting scientific mission: research of space weather and auroras, both linked together and one of the main subjects of the Finnish space research.
It sports a camera for taking stunning orbital imagery and a specially made VHF/UHF band radio for receiving radio signals that can be used for revealing the structure and contents of the ionosphere. The Ionosphere is an area in space around the Earth full of charged particles, originating mostly from the Sun.
In general, ionosphere and the changes in it are closely linked to space weather and to the geomagnetic storms. These are behind the magnificent auroral displays that are one of the main elements of the Finnish wintery landscape.
The images and the "sounds of auroras" can be followed on the Science measurements page. The photos are being uploaded now more or less regularly, but the radio observations will start later in February 2019.
The educational activities of the Suomi 100 Satellite project reached all Finns through mass media and many projects raisin awareness of space and the STEAM subjects in general.
The most visible part of the project was in September-October 2017, when the "Space Truck", the roaming Suomi 100 Satellite exhibition built inside a truck toured the main cities and towns of Finland. The visitors had an access to a virtual space, learned about space, science and technology, and also built a copy of the satellite in a small clean room inside the truck.
One of the long-reaching results of the Suomi 100 Space Truck is the Kitsat, inexpensive educational satellite, that has been now expanded to educational package using space as tool in science teaching.
Roots in Aalto university’s nanosatellite knowhow
The Suomi 100 Satellite originated from the team behind the Aalto nanosatellites, designed and built by Aalto university students since 2010.
Because of the delays, two predecessors of the Suomi 100 satellite were launched in space in 2017: first Aalto-2 in May and Aalto-1 in June.
The operations of the Aalto-1 and Suomi 100 satellites take place from an own ground station at the university campus in Otaniemi, Espoo.
Further two satellites are being built at the Aalto university: a student-led Aalto-3 and a FORESAIL-1 research satellite. FORESAIL-2 is being designed.
If all goes well, will Suomi 100 satellite continue its observations for several years. This work will possibly be continued by Lappi Satellite in mid 2020's.
For more information:
Prof. Esa Kallio
Tel. +358 50 4205 857