First image captured by TshepisoSat (ZACUBE-1)

First picture taken by TshepisoSat (ZACUBE-1) - Image Credit CPUT F'SATI

First picture taken by TshepisoSat (ZACUBE-1) – Image Credit CPUT F’SATI

TshepisoSat was built at the French South African Institute of Technology (F’SATI), at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and launched on a Dnepr from Dombarovsky near Yasny on November 21, 2013.

ZACUBE-1, FUNcube-1 and HiNCube in the deployment pod - Image credit Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

ZACUBE-1, FUNcube-1 and HiNCube in the deployment pod – Image credit Wouter Weggelaar PA3WEG

The CPUT-F’SATI blog says:

Earlier this week a quick checkout of the payload board was done. The sub-system board was powered on and a few telemetry values were requested with all response values indicating good health. The board was successfully switched off again.

On the morning of December 14 the satellite was again commanded to switch on the payload board and a sequence of commands were sent to capture an image and store it in the on-board storage. During the following two passes the image was successfully downloaded using the CPUT/F’SATI built VHF/UHF radio transceiver in its 9k6 bps G3RUH/GMSK mode.

CPUT ZACUBE-1 TshepisoSat

CPUT ZACUBE-1 TshepisoSat

In the image the sun can be seen along with lens flare caused by the camera being pointed towards the sun. The black dot in the bottom right is most likely caused by overload of camera’s CMOS sensor by the sun. The spacecraft is not stabilized in three axis, so capturing images is a best effort affair (imaging is not the main focus of the mission). We can hopefully capture an image showing the earth in the upcoming days.

Original known as ZACube-1, the satellite has been named TshepisoSat, after a competition held for Grade 9 learners. Tshepiso is the seSotho word meaning promise.

ZACUBE-1 TshepisoSat HF beacon antenna deployment unit - Image credit CPUT

ZACUBE-1 TshepisoSat HF beacon antenna deployment unit – Image credit CPUT

The launch was the culmination of five years’ work after the first proposal to build a small satellite as part of the engineering curriculum was put forward by Professor Robert van Zyl in February 2008. Co-operation of the French Government made possible the forming of F’SATI and the French Ambassador in South Africa, Elizabeth Barbier, during a video address, promised continued support by France for the program.

The satellite also includes a small camera which will be used to monitor the releases of the 20 metre beacon antenna. The beacon will operate on 14099 kHz and will be used to characterize the Superdarn antennas at the Antarctic which are used to study the ionosphere. The UHF beacon operates on 437.345 MHz.

CPUT-F’SATI blog http://www.cput.ac.za/blogs/fsati/2013/12/15/first-image-captured-by-zacube-1-tshepisosat-from-space/

ZACUBE-1 http://www.cput.ac.za/blogs/fsati/zacube-1/

Southern African Amateur Radio Satellite Association (SA AMSAT) http://www.amsatsa.org.za/

Satellites on the Yasny Dnepr launch http://amsat-uk.org/satellites/dnepr-november-2013/