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Tama Art University×The University of Tokyo ARTSAT Project




INVADER is the name of the world's first CubeSat art satellite that is currently being developed for art and design purposes as part of the ARTSAT project. According to plan, it will be launched by JAXA as a piggyback microsatellite on the H-IIA rocket in February 2014. After that, it will remain in orbit for about one year, during which a variety of events will be staged.

About CubeSat

A CubeSat, the smallest type of nano-satellite in the world, is a 10 cm cubical body premised on being launched as a piggyback satellite. XI-V, designed and built by students of the University of Tokyo, and CUTE-I, made by students of Tokyo Institute of Technology, were the first CubeSats to be successfully launched on June 30, 2003.


INVADER is a beautiful satellite formed out of aluminum frame. The computer for carrying out the artistic mission is compatible with Arduino software as widely used in DIY projects, and allows program execution and reprogramming while in orbit. In addition, appropriate production data for the creation of artworks are distributed via the ARTSAT API from a server at the ground station.


Starting out from artistic production based on data obtained via the ARTSAT API or received directly by radio from the satellite, the project aims to explore new possibilities in media art by way of creating interactive artworks using the Arduino-compatible Mission OBC, and other attempts utilizing human imagination to expand the minimal amounts of satellite data to the utmost limit.


The satellite is equipped with a solar cell current/voltage sensor, an exterior/interior thermometer, a gyroscope, and a magnetic sensor for housekeeping purposes. Also considered is the addition of an intelligent algorithmic camera and a radiation sensor to be used for the mission's execution. Communication with the ground station is done via amateur radio.

Command and Data Handling

This is a system for managing housekeeping data indicating the satellite's interior condition, proceeding orders received from the ground, and giving instructions to other sub-systems. In terms of the human body, that would be the central nerve and brain system, which in this case processes uplink commands, gathers and stores sensor data, and conducts mutual surveillance in order to prevent fatal malfunction.


Power management of the satellite as a whole is a vital function relating to the satellite's life. In concrete terms, necessary electric power generated by GaAs solar cells on the satellites exterior surface is stored in lithium-ion batteries, or distributed to the respective built-in devices. Power supply to all built-in devices is constantly monitored, so that appropriate measures such as turning off electrical power can be taken as soon as a defect regarding electrical current or voltage is detected.

Communication/Grand Station

In order to establish wireless communication that is elemental for sending orders from the ground to the satellite, or transmitting data from the satellite down to the ground, circuits and boards are developed, communication protocols programmed, and repeated circuit calculations and operation tests conducted. Communication is the lifeline that connects the satellite with the ground. The ground station that receives radio waves from INVADER is set up at Tama Art University.


This is about the satellite's exterior and interior construction. Considered next to the process from hand-drawn concept studies for the satellite's functional and at once aesthetic structure, to the eventual order placement based on a CAD model, are aspects such as substrate and wiring inside the satellite; antenna deployment mechanisms; and interface design for J-POD emission mechanisms. Experimental models for communication and vibration testing are built.

Thermal Control

All parts installed in the satellite are subject to temperature limits in terms of operability and conservability. The Thermal Control Team is in charge of designing the satellite so that its interior temperature doesn't exceed these limitations. Once in outer space, the satellite is exposed to severe environmental conditions that don't occur down here on earth. Therefore, various thermal tests are conducted in order to examine the satellite's design.



List of Works