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Journey of diamond magnetometers in space

Image Courtesy: OSCAR-QUBE (Hasselt Univ.) / ICE Cubes

“We are on the journey to bring our quantum sensing sensors towards real space applications by demonstrating the stable long-term operation in Low Earth Orbit. In our experience, the ICE Cubes facility provides an excellent platform for technology development and validation and is less risky than other platforms i.e. CubeSat.” – Jaroslav Hruby – Hasselt University OSCAR-QUBE students team lead

“We are a team of interdisciplinary students who are developing a novel type of quantum sensing technology based on diamond. With our project OSCAR-QUBE (Optical Sensors based on CARbon materials: QUantum BElgium) we were selected to the ‘Orbit Your Thesis’ programme organized by the European Space Agency (ESA). In the framework of this programme we received the opportunity to design, build, and test our experiment inside the ICE Cubes facility hosted onboard the International Space Station

We are on the journey to bring our sensors out of the laboratory towards real space applications. This means increasing the TRL by demonstrating the stable long-term operation in low Earth orbit. In our experience, the ICE Cubes facility provides an excellent platform allowing us to focus development efforts primarily on our technology. The ICF provides us with stable power and communications, therefore it is less risky than other platforms i.e. CubeSat.

As students in this project we gained a lot of hands-on experience, and thanks to the support of experts from ESA and Space Applications Services the development of our device was accelerated. Because of that we managed to develop the device in one year, from idea towards shipping to the launch site. The support continues also in the operations phase when we have real-time control of our device. And after the end of the mission the device will be returned back to Earth.

We are thankful for this unique opportunity and we hope we can be the source of inspiration for next generations of young scientists and engineers to take the next step towards space! Because we believe the technology does not improve on its own, it only improves when motivated people work hard to make it better. So let’s work together and change the way magnetometry is done in space today!” – Jaroslav Hruby (3rd left below photo) (February, 2022)

Top photo credits: OSCAR-QUBE (Hasselt Univ.) / ICE Cubes

Team Award
"Hans von Muldau" won by the OSCARQube team at the International Astronautical Congress 2021 in Dubai

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