This object lost in space for 4 years has been found

About four and a half years after the last signal, a French nanosatellite miraculously returned to life. He could soon return to service to carry out his mission.

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

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

A nanosatellite reappearing 4 years after its disappearance

And this is truly a small miracle, for the nanosatellite, which consists of three cubes of 10 centimeters on each side and is no heavier than a cat (3.5 kilograms), did not need any help to send this signal. Better: according to some, the machine would be very active and could even show itself operational to carry out the mission which he was sent out into space for. “What good news”the National Center for Space Studies (CNES) responded to the social network.

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

Observes a giant gaseous exoplanet

A mission that is so much the more interesting that the core of this system is one gas giant exoplanet, Beta Pictoris b, “seven times more massive than Jupiter orbiting its star 1.5 billion kilometers away, like Saturn orbiting the Sun”.

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

But there is still a problem: this transit, which lasts only a few hours in the case of Beta Pictoris b, reproduces … every 18 years. However, the last passage of the exoplanet in front of its star dates back to the summer of 2018. PicSat may therefore have to abandon its long journey, but it is not impossible that it will end up going towards another system.

In any case, before resuming service, the satellite must first pass a diagnostic assessment of its condition in order to determine whether it is still capable of performing such a challenge. A review already planned by LESIA Astro:

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