First CERN-managed satellite successfully launched

(ORDO NEWS) — CELESTA, the first satellite operated by CERN (European Center for Nuclear Research), successfully entered orbit during the first flight of the European Vega-C launch vehicle.

Launched by the European Space Agency from the French Guiana Space Center on July 13, 2022, the satellite turned around smoothly and transmitted its first signals in the afternoon.

The CELESTA satellite, weighing one kilogram and measuring 10 centimeters on each side, is a cubesat designed to study the effect of cosmic radiation on electronics.

The satellite carries Space RadMon, a miniature version of the well-established radiation monitoring device installed at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

CELESTA was sent into low-Earth orbit at an altitude of almost 6,000 kilometers. “Right in the center of the inner Van Allen belt, CELESTA will explore an unusual orbit where radiation levels are highest,” explains Markus Brügger, head of the CERN Experimental Areas Group.

The space-based RadMon is a prime example of how CERN technologies can be used for more than just particle physics experiments.

“Based entirely on standardized, ultra-sensitive components selected and calibrated by CERN, and largely on CERN installations, the spaceborne RadMon is a lightweight and low-power instrument ideal for risk-tolerant future space missions,” says Ruben Garcia Alia, Project Manager.

“If the CELESTA project is successful, Space RadMon could even be adapted to satellite constellations as a maintenance forecasting tool to anticipate needed satellite upgrades.”

The CELESTA radiation model has also been tested at CHARM, CERN’s mixed field facility, which is capable of largely reproducing the radiation environment in low Earth orbit. The mission will be an important test of this installation capability.

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