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MiTEE – A project to Maintain Low Earth Orbit

Staying in space by floating there can be illusory hard. Any elements in the gravity or say the small satellites that falls into the low earth orbit has to constantly fight with the drag caused by the air molecules.
Till now they use to defend this kind of drag using propellant but in case of smaller satellites don’t have desirable propellant to keep floating for long time. Recently students from the University of Michigan has developed a model for the satellite that allows floating using magnetism technique. This technique is known as Miniature Tether Electrodynamics Experiment (MiTEE) project which is launched from Mojave Desert on virgin Galactic’s flight. It has a multidisciplinary team of undergraduate students and PhD from UofM. This is the first project by the team which took around 6 years of long effort.

With this long effort they have developed a novel satellite, a pair of satellite you can say to test the idea of using earths own magnetic field by the small satellites to get a small amount of lift. And to test this magnetic field theory, a pair of satellites was built in which one satellite is of bread size and the other one is of smartphone size. This both satellite is then connected by a wire which produce current in them.

How this works is that it uses the fundamental laws of electromagnetism in which when an electric current is available in the magnetic field, magnetic field will apply the force on the conductor containing the current. Magnetosphere and magnetic field are both present in the earths lower orbit. MiTEE use this current as a rope to pair between the two satellites to defend the air drag and gravity and push the satellites in the upward direction. To launch the first version MiTEE-1 which has single 1-meter rigid to connect the two satellites which will focus on measuring the current produced by ionosphere. It will test the bind used for an actual antenna and try to measure its feasibility to completely float around the system without any propellant.

After its launch MiTEE starts collecting large amount of data to get parsed and the entire workflow for a second system to get fly are under the college students.