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CanSat

CanSat is used as an education tool in so many universities and high schools, and you can see the description about CanSat everywhere. In this page, we show an introduction of CanSat just briefly.

A CanSat is a simulation of nano-satellite that is 350ml can-sized, or three times larger than 350ml can. The later one is called "OpenClass" or "OpenCan". CanSat has antenna, tran-ceiver, MPU, sensor, and so on. It is launched to high altitude by amateur rocket or captive balloon, drone, or other aircraft, and released from the aircraft. Afther that, it deploys a parachute or parafoil and falls slowly. It carries out its mission during the flight. CanSat project was proposed by Prof. Twiggs of Stanford University at University Space Systems Symposium (USSS) in 1998. A launch experiment of CanSat using amateur model rocket named ARLISS is held in Black rock desert in Nevada USA every year. In ARLISS, the CanSat is launched to 2 or 3 km from the ground by the model rocket. There have been lots of missions tried in ARLISS, e.f. sensing, tele-communication, formation flight, deployable/extensible structure, and flight to a target point. Thinking about the mission is one of the interesting (most interesting) points of CanSat project.

This project started as a first step of the satellite development by studetns. It used to be a gateway to student satellite. In the first year, only University of Tokyo team and Tokyo Institute of Technology team participated in ARLISS. Our laboratory participated in ARLISS from the second year, i.e. 2000. UNISEC is now organizing ARLISS. Many universities in Japan, EU, USA, and other countries use CanSat for education of engineering. In Japan, a CanSat event "CanSat Koushien" is held for high school students every year, which is a kind of science competition. Professors in UNISEC have published a textbook of CanSat "CanSat −超小型模擬人工衛星−" (Prof. Miyazaki and Prof. Yamazaki are authors, too). We would like you to read this book!

Many of the laboratories participating ARLISS start the project in April, and conduct the experiment in ARLISS in September, i.e. five month later, and write the report, which is an annual event. Our laboratory participated in ARLISS ever year until FY2009, and made the report to hand down the know-how and the attitude (mind) to accomplish the CanSat project. After 2010, we have not participated in ARLISS because of the budget and to focus on the development of SPROUT. In stead of ARLISS, we conduct the experiment of CanSat using a captive balloon in our university field. We drop the CanSat from 100-150 altitude using the balloon. The member is changed from the laboratory member to younger students in Satellte Lab. We conduct the CanSat project as Fresh student program. Actually in 2010, we established the fresh student program in which the balloon experiment in Futawa ground is the final subject. After that, there are getting increased the opportunities of the balloon experiment of CanSats. But we hope fresh students will offer participating in ARLISS because SPROUT was already launched and the operation of SPROUT is now in steady phase.

We think the most important thing is "what you seek in CanSat project". It is wasteful that you make a CanSat, launch it, feel "I have enjoyed CanSat. I have got good memories.", finish the project, and that's all. We think it is important to set the objectives of the project as a waypoint of the following step (larger project). Whatever the objectives, it is most important that you make up a team, proceed the development according to schedule, conduct the ARLISS flight, and summarize/reflect the project. The schedule control is not easy ("Easier said than done"). The sense of responsibility of each member determine the result at last.

In that sence, we think that CanSat is rather a tool to experience the project management with learning the basic knowledge about the satellite, and a tool to start to consider your satellite mission deeply than a tool to experience manufacturing. It is not easy to propose a mission that is possible to realize by CanSat and is evalueted as significant and valuable mission by people (everyone around you). The process that you compose your logic and explain about your mission in fromt of people around you saying confidently "This mission is significant because ..." is the same as the mission definition process of real satellite. Achive your wonderful mission with your CanSat!

It was not straightforward to develop an object filled with electric circuit for the laboratory of aerospace engineering. However, after every year's succession of the know-how, we think we have reached a certain level, i.e. almost same as the students in department of electric engineering. We think that CanSat is a good project to get double major for students in aerospace engineering.


College of Science and Technology, Nihon University
Department of Aerospace Engineering
Miyazaki and Yamazaki Laboratory
College of Science and Technology, Nihon University
7-24-1 Narashinodai, Funabashi, Chiba 274-8501, Japan
e-mail: asel (at) forth.aero.cst.nihon-u.ac.jp