TÜBITAK UZAY: A leading R&D Institute in Space Technologies

TÜB?TAK UZAY (Space Technologies Research Institute), an institute of The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜB?TAK) leads and takes part in R&D

Issue 21

Brief history of space activities

Space activities of the institute were initiated under Satellite Technologies Group in 1998. In August 2001, under the framework of an agreement between SSTL (Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, UK) and TÜB?TAK UZAY, “BiLSAT Earth Observation Microsatellite Project” has been started to develop and propagate small satellite technologies in Turkey. The satellite was successfully launched from Plesetsk Cosmodrome (Russia) in 27th September, 2003 on board Russian Kosmos-3M launch vehicle and became Turkey’s first Earth observation satellite. BiLSAT satellite was also a part of DMC (Disaster Monitoring Constellation) which is a program led by SSTL aiming at rapid-response disaster monitoring and mitigation. Two R&D payloads on board BiLSAT, GEZG?N and ÇOBAN, are the first Turkish space systems successfully designed, manufactured and tested by Turkish engineers.

GEZG?N is a real-time image processing subsystem that leads to efficient utilization of both downlink and on-board storage. ÇOBAN is a low resolution 8-channel camera.

TÜB?TAK UZAY has gained the capability to design and build small satellites in the framework of BiLSAT technology transfer project. After the completion of BiLSAT project, “RASAT Earth Observation Satellite Project” which aims at designing, building and launching first domestic Earth observation microsatellite of Turkey was initiated. In April 2006, preliminary design study of RASAT was performed with the strong help of European Space Agency (ESA) certified staff for assembly of space systems and AIT (Assembly Integration and Test) Laboratory located in UZAY’s premises. The satellite is expected to be launched in 2010 and to send images in early 2011.

The main aim of RASAT is to test new and home-grown Turkish R&D payloads [B?LGE (on board computer) and GEZG?N-2, X-Band Communication System] and gain heritage, so that they can be used in future national and international satellite missions. With RASAT, Turkey will have another Earth observation satellite with much better specifications

93 kg satellite RASAT is scheduled to be launched onboard Dnepr launch vehicle operated by International Space Company Kosmotras (ISCK). The launch operation will be carried out from the Yasny Launch Site in Orenburg region in Southeast Russia on Kazakhstan border. RASAT satellite will be one of the 7 satellites participating in a cluster launch, which 3 of them are cubesats.

Dnepr launch vehicle is developed on the basis of the world’s most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile, SS-18. Dnepr is known to be one of the most precise and efficient launch vehicles used for mini satellite launches into low orbits since 1999. The launch operation that RASAT will participate is planned to be the Dnepr launch vehicle’s 17th launch intended to carry a satellite.

TÜB?TAK UZAY also participated/conducted various projects involving Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS). TU-REMOSENS is one of those projects that was supported by NATO and was conducted together with Middle East Technical University.

The main objectives of the project were: Installation and operation of a NOAA/HRPT receiving station, Implementation of a NOAA/HRPT image archive of the region and a database of snow cover and hydrologic parameters of the study region, Operation of a snowmelt run-off model of the study area, with data collected from field and extracted from satellite image data, Establishment of an operational Dust Transport Model for detection and deposition of dust. In this project, the main GIS and RS studies were conducted in TÜB?TAK UZAY.

Another area of study in TÜB?TAK UZAY related to GIS is AM/FM systems as applied to electric distribution systems. Creating synergy with other studies conducted in TÜB?TAK UZAY, an original approach for modeling Turkish urban electric distribution system was created within electric distribution system master planning. This approach was later used in pilot projects for Istanbul.

In addition to the ones mentioned above, some other small size RS and GIS projects were conducted and consultancy services have been provided. TÜB?TAK UZAY has also made projects on developing tools for low cost remote sensing and photogrammetry. In this framework, a coastal zone in Turkey was imaged using COTS cameras on various manned and unmanned imaging platforms. Software for bundle adjustment, mosaicing and stereoscopic matching were also developed in house. Currently, various partnerships and projects are being developed for photogrammetry and RS from UAVs.

TÜB?TAK UZAY also employs standard reliability assessment services. TÜB?TAK UZAY’s Reliability Laboratory possesses latest technology reliability tests and inspection equipments and software systems used on reliability analyses and lifetime estimations, including failure extrapolation and combined stress effect analysis, which RASAT satellite benefits enormously.

TÜB?TAK UZAY has also been working on various branches of signal processing. One example is a product named BALISTIKA, a system developed to obtain 3D information on cartridge cases and bullets and to match them automatically. BALISTIKA uses photometric stereo method to obtain 3D data and uses various computer vision techniques to process and match them.

TÜB?TAK UZAY, with the projects carried out since 1985, makes significant contribution to Turkey’s potential in producing advanced technology via the RASAT satellite, continues to carry out technology development activities to support Turkey’s road map in space.