The Fraunhofer EMI is developing he nanosatellite ERNST to demonstrate the potential of CubeSat-based small satellites for ambitious Earth observation tasks. Following the successful verification of the engineering qualification model, the critical design review marked the transition to the production and testing phase of the ERNST flight model, which is scheduled for launch in June 2022.
In the Micro Satellite Military Utility Project Agreement (MSMU PA) project, which is performed under the umbrella of the Responsive Space Capability Memorandum of Understanding (RSC MoU), Fraunhofer EMI investigates the military utility of small satellites for the German Federal Armed Forces in cooperation with nine partner countries.
Fraunhofer EMI is currently developing the first Fraunhofer satellite ERNST. ERNST is a 12U nano-satellite that will demonstrate the potential and agility of this satellite class for the German Federal Armed Forces with a kryo-cooled infrared payload.
In the space sector, Fraunhofer EMI stands for comprehensive and high-quality experimental and numerical simulations of hypervelocity impact pro-cesses such as the ones occurring during collisions of space debris with spacecraft or of asteroids and planetary surfaces. As part of our activities regarding small satellites, we have expanded our test spectrum for space qualification for components and CubeSats.
The Columbus module of the International Space Station (ISS) has been orbiting Earth since 2008. Natural micrometeoroids and anthropogenic space debris are impacting the module ever since. Columbus is well protected against this threat, because the meteoroid and debris protection system (MPDS) has been developed and tested at EMI.
Hypervelocity impacts on spacecraft surfaces cause fragments to be ejected. The fragment tracking method developed at Fraunhofer EMI allows detailed measurements of the properties of these fragments for the first time. The model developed shall be used to predict the influence of the space particle environment on the orbit and attitude of satellites.
The EMI data processing unit (DPU) features the latest generation of FPGA-based processors and allows high-performance image processing onboard small satellites.
Satellites have to be removed from orbit after the end of mission. In this case, a satellite requires a de-orbiting device for the maneuver. At EMI, we are developing such a device for our nanosatellite ERNST.
The space technology industry is currently undergoing major changes, which are termed “New Space” by its protagonists. These changes, propelled by considerable private investments, include the implementation of large constellations of small serially produced satellites.
Space debris moves at a high orbital speed and presents a destructive risk for satellites. For the risk assessment for space missions, simulation methods for tracking the amount of space debris are used that are based on empirical databases and estimations. At Fraunhofer EMI, numerical methods for the virtual simulation of complex collision events in orbit are developed in order to gain a better and more realistic understanding of the risks.
On September 5, and two weeks later on September 21 and 22, 2018, the outer hull of the Columbus module of the International Space Station (ISS) was visually inspected. These robotic camera screenings were the first systematic inspection since the module has been docked to the ISS more than ten years ago. The survey data will be utilized by Fraunhofer EMI and its project partners to improve our knowledge on the space debris population.