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Design for nanosatellite PICASSO positively assessed

12 May 2015 - To measure the ozone distribution in the stratosphere, the temperature in the mesosphere and the electron density in the ionosphere, the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB) is developping the PICASSO satellite, in collaboration with VTT (Finland), Clyde-Space Ltd (UK) and the Centre Spatial de Liège (Belgium), for the European Space Agency ESA.

Just 32x10x10 cm in size, this CubeSat will use:

  • a miniaturised multispectral imager for atmospheric 'limb sounding' with the Sun as the light source (VISION)
  • the multineedle Sweeping Langmuir Probe (SLP) sampling the electron density of the space around it




On 23-24 April 2015, the PICASSO mission was reviewed by ESA during a Preliminary Design Review (PDR) collocation at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC). Both instruments (VISION and SLP) and the platform were positively assessed during a very intense questions/answers session with ESA experts from different fields.


A PDR demonstrates that the preliminary design meets all system requirements with acceptable risk and within the cost and schedule constraints and establishes the basis for proceeding with detailed design. It will show that the correct design options have been selected, interfaces have been identified, and verification methods have been described.


PicassoThe PDR was declared successful with actions left (as usual!) for the team. The close-out of the PDR is foreseen at the end of May, after which the PICASSO project will enter the next phase, with a Critical Design Review (CDR) expected in October 2015.


The CDR demonstrates that the maturity of the design is appropriate to support proceeding with full-scale fabrication, assembly, integration, and test.


Several launch opportunities have already been identified. The target launch date is the second part of 2016.




Related article: Picasso CubeSat to investigate upper layers of the atmosphere



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