Ex-Alta 1: University of Alberta's first CubeSat

Thanks to funding from the Canadian Space Agency, students from the University of Alberta have built a CubeSat as part of the international QB50 mission.

The CubeSat, named Ex-Alta 1, will collect information on space weather with the help of a miniaturized version of a science instrument called a magnetometer, an essential tool for studying solar storms.

What is the QB50 Mission?

QB50 is an international space mission funded by the European Commission. It provides a unique, hands-on experience to university students around the world. Each team is responsible for designing, building and operating a CubeSat, allowing the team members to acquire new skills in space science and technology, as well as abilities like how to communicate science.

Launch into space

Ex-Alta 1 was successfully deployed into space from the International Space Station on May 26, 2017, at 8:55 GMT. The CubeSat is now orbiting the Earth. Once all required testing is completed, it will be commissioned to fulfill its scientific mission. The location of Ex-Alta 1 can be tracked live at any time.

Successful launch of Ex-Alta 1, University of Alberta's CubeSat, from the International Space Station. (Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA)

Digital simulation and animation

Digital simulation of Ex-Alta 1's deployment in low-Earth orbit. (Credit: Andy Kale, University of Alberta)

This animation shows Ex-Alta 1's components. (Credit: Andy Kale, University of Alberta)

A dedicated team

The Ex-Alta 1 CubeSat is made up of three units and is about the size of a loaf of bread. It is the result of seven years of work by AlbertaSat, a team of undergraduate and graduate students under the supervision of professors from the University of Alberta.

Mosaic showing the members of the AlbertaSat team and the various steps involved in building the Ex-Alta 1 CubeSat. (Credits: Collin Cupido, Charles Nokes and John Ulan, University of Alberta)

The University of Alberta team explains how the Ex-Alta 1 CubeSat was built and its mission objective. (Credit: University of Alberta)