This object lost in space for 4 years has been found


About four and a half years after its last signal, a French nanosatellite has miraculously returned to life. He may soon be back on duty to carry out his mission.

It was thought to be lost forever after its sudden disappearance from radar on March 20, 2018, just over four years ago. But on June 22 PicSat, a French nanosatellite designed and built by researchers and engineers from the Paris Observatory and CNRS, has miraculously brought back to lifeas announced on Twitter by the Laboratory for Space Studies and Astrophysical Instrumentation (LESIA Astro).

“We thought it was lost, promised to disintegrate in the Earth’s atmosphere in silence. The @IamPicSat nanosatellite designed and manufactured at @LesiaAstro has just returned a signal after 4 and a half years of radio silence. It was launched on a PSLV rocket January 10, 2018”we can read in the post published by the organization.

A nanosatellite that reappears 4 years after its disappearance

And this is really a small miracle, because the nanosatellite, made up of three cubes of 10 centimeters per side and no heavier than a cat (3.5 kilos), did not benefit from any help to send this signal. Better: according to some, the car would be very active and could even show itself operational to carry out the mission so he was sent into space. “That good news”reacted the National Center for Space Studies (CNES) on the social network.

The mission in question: to go and collect data on learn more about the Beta Pictoris star system“a star in the sky of the southern hemisphere”, as specified by the CNRS, located about 63.4 light years from our world. “This is an extremely young star, only 23 million years old, which has fascinated researchers since the discovery of a large disk of dust, gas and rock debris around it in the early 1980s.”says the organization.

Observing a giant gas exoplanet

A mission that is all the more interesting since at the center of this system lies a gas giant exoplanet, Beta Pictoris b, “seven times more massive than Jupiter, which revolves around its star 1.5 billion kilometers away, like Saturn around the Sun”.

By observing the deviations and variations of light as it passes in front of its star, the nanosatellite could collect more data such as “the exact dimensions of the exoplanet, the extent and composition of its atmosphere and its chemical composition”. This is what astronomy calls the transit method.

But one problem remains: this transit, which lasts only a few hours in the case of Beta Pictoris b, breeds … every 18 years. The last passage of the exoplanet in front of its star, however, dates back to the summer of 2018. PicSat may therefore have to give up its long journey, but it is not excluded that it ends up heading towards another system.

However, before resuming service, the satellite must first pass a diagnostic assessment of its condition to determine if it is still capable of carrying out this challenge. A review already scheduled by LESIA Astro:


Leave a Comment