23 November 2022

By Daniela Ramos Parra.

As part of the second session of the UNAM-Nottingham Aerospace Engineering Binational Seminar, two lecturers presented their respective space programs. First, Dr. Rafael Guadalupe Chavez Moreno from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and then Dr. Chantal Cappelleti from the University of Nottingham.

Dr. Chavez Moreno began by explaining that Mexico is uniquely positioned for space programs because of its development of new technologies and the ability to reduce costs, so that the K’OTO Nanosatellite Program has flourished. The name comes from the Otomí language, meaning “grasshopper”. The objectives for the mission is to do remote seeing over Mexican territory, as well as fostering highly specialized human capital and strengthening the technological sovereignty of Mexico, staring operations by 2023. Dr. Chavez Moreno detailed on the different strategies of development for this satellite, as well as its structure, both in hardware and software. He remarked the program is only possible through interdisciplinary and international collaboration, and through the sponsorship of UNAM and the government of the State of Queretaro, where the modern facilities are located. To end his presentation, Dr. Chavez Moreno answered two questions: one about the structure of the facilities, and the second one about the propulsion system of the satellite. He responded accordingly, describing the facilities and the reason of the propulsion system as a way to stabilize the satellite.

Dr. Cappelleti continued the seminar, outlining the Nottspace area of the university, where they research about small satellites, CubeSar Platform implementation, astrodynamics, space debris, deployable systems, mission analysis, and release mechanisms. They also have several active programs which she explained. First, Astrojam, is an educational CubeSat that aimed to produce pharmaceutical products in space. Then there is Wormsail, a satellite that can make experiments from the behavior of tiny nematodes, using the Earth’s magnetic field to steer the satellite and more. Once it is launched, it would be the world’s first multi-cellular organisms on a CubeSat flight and assisted with the University of Brasilia. Other activities include TemboSat: a project of conservation through tracking elephants over Kenya; Antaeus: Astrophysical Nanosatellite for the Study High Energy Particles in the Universe; CubeSat Constellation for Climate Change (CC4CC), which plans to track how climate change is affecting the world; and in-orbit detection of intra-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning flashes to predict extreme weather phenomena. She ended her presentation of the ongoing projects taking about the UON-ADCP: atmospheric Data Collection Probe, which won a few student competitions in Europe. Finally, the seminar ended with the question: How did they manage thermal analysis and tests in Nottspace? To which Dr. Cappelleti answered that they have a complex use of facilities and software to have the best results.