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Humanitarian applications Nanosatellite could make data tracking more affordable

A Swiss-designed nanosatellite that's slightly bigger than a shoebox is now in orbit, being prepared to monitor infrastructure such as African water use from space. 

The small satellite was produced by Astrocast, a spin-off of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL).

The satellite was sent into space on December 3 at a rocket launch in California. Following a test phase, the shoebox-sized device will be used to better monitor infrastructure and facilities, including those in remote areas.

Astrocast’s satellite is a type of cube-shaped nanosatellite measuring just 10 centimetres (4 inches) per side. The first device went into orbit along with some 70 other satellites aboard the Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX, which is owned by the Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

The EPFL spin-off’s system will be used to monitor infrastructure and facilities, such as water purification operations in African villages, remotely and cost-effectively. The machines will have an internal communication module that will send water consumption and status data several times per day.

A second satellite of the same type will be deployed from India in January, and the company plans to launch dozens more satellites into orbit by 2022external link.

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