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Tracking the world’s first wooden satellite

You can soon log the world’s first wooden satellite, WISA Woodsat. WISA Woodsat is a research satellite with a mission to do material research in space. More specifically, explore the use of birch plywood in spacecraft structures. 

Plywood is a natural composite material and for decades it has been used as a structural material in many demanding industrial applications such as aircraft structures and propellers, windmill blades, as well as truck, trailer, and bus floors. WISA-Birch plywood is also used in LNG tanker ship insulation elements where the material needs to handle -163C (-261F) freezing temperatures. Plywood is strong and easy to work with and therefore the most common use of plywood is in buildings where the panels are used for creating load-bearing floors, walls, and roofs.

Heat, cold, and moisture are normal elements on the Earth’s surface but in space, the material faces different challenges. WISA Woodsat has two specific research focus areas – “super drying” and outgassing caused by the vacuum in space and harsh unfiltered UV radiation.The satellite carries a suite of sensors to measure changes in the wood material. But the primary way of observation is a camera, which is mounted on a unique selfie stick. The camera enables monitoring of the visual changes in the wood material. But, for the Geocaching community, the selfie camera has an alternative purpose. WISA Woodsat travels around the Globe once every 1.5 hours, making it an ultimate Travel Bug (TB9GB8G). You can log WISA Woodsat by finding the tracking code from the pictures, which the satellite has taken with its selfie camera.

The satellite uses LoRa radio, which is possible for radio amateurs to communicate with the satellite directly. You can download your own images from the satellite. But, if you do not have your radio equipment at the ready, you can visit and explore the image gallery. 

WISA Woodsat is scheduled to launch from New Zealand with Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket before the end of 2021. Lots of unexpected events can happen in space so this schedule is subject to change. Add TB9GB8G to your Watch list to be notified with the very latest information.

Source: Geocaching

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