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Ground Station for educational CubeSats


A ground station for low-orbit nanosatellite such as CubeSats communications is available at ESAC for the transmission and reception of data. The control centre is located in the CESAR office so as to facilitate its integration with educational activities.

The ground station development is funded by ESA’s Science Operations Division (SCI-OO) and managed via the ESAC Internship Programme. The programme offers students the opportunity to get hands-on experience with space technologies and their scientific applications.

Technical specifications

The ground station for nanosatellite communications is a prototype with two steerable yagi antennae in the UHF and VHF bands. The antenna steering system is able to track the position of the satellite in the sky.  

The receiver is based on software radio and, with the appropriate configuration, can decode any signal within the band.

Where is the ground station located?

The ground station is located in the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESACon the roof of the A-building.

What can we observe?

Academic nanosatellites usually transmit in free UHF and VHF bands.

The Cubesat is the most popular nanosatellite standard used by universities. The Californian Cal Poly and Stanford universities standardised the cubesat. A CubeSat (U-class spacecraft[1]) is a type of miniaturised satellite for space research that is made up of multiples of 10×10×10 cm cubic units. CubeSats have a mass of no more than 1.33 kilograms per unit[2] and often use commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components for their electronics and structure.

Access to the observatory

Universities and schools will be able to receive telemetry from nanosatellites in the ground station control centre.

Current status

Under commissioning and performance characterisation.

What is a cubesat?

A CubeSat is an artificial satellite that is within the Nanosatellites (1 -10 kg) category. However, the CubeSats are made up of multiples of 10×10×10 cm cubic units, each unit does not exceed 1,33 kilograms.

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