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The main goal of the ISTnanosat project is to provide students with an interesting and challenging experience in order to foster their enthusiasm for space science and technology, contributing to complement their education and prepare them for future professional life.

The use of a CubeSat for such purpose seamed very appropriated, within an academic context, as it allows setting forth a hands-on space project involving students from several engineering programmes, and exposing them to the full project lifecycle of this kind of spacecraft.

In this particular case, the first iteration of the ISTnanosat project - the ISTSAT-1 satellite - will carry out one main mission during its lifetime.


The recent interest in Space-based ADS-B (SB-ADSB) has led to a number of technology demonstration missions based on small satellites or CubeSats (Proba-V, GOMX-1 and 3, CANX-7), each proposing different ADS-B solutions

ISTSAT-1 will build up on the experience from previous missions and propose a wide Field-of-View (FOV), small form factor (patch) ADS-B antenna together with a low power, high sensitivity receiver with the main objective of receiving ADS-B signals from space. The aircraft tracking data collected and transmitted to the ground will be analysed and correlated with ground-based tracking datasets in order to:

  • Assess and characterize the “Cone of Silence” when aircraft are at the nadir of the satellite;
  • Measure the performance parameters of the receiving chain, namely: “Probability of Target Acquisition”, “Probability of Detection” and “Probability of Identification".