On Friday 16 September, the launch of the ESERO CanSat competition 2020-2021 took place. The original launch had been postponed due to covid-19 restrictions, but thankfully measures were relaxed, and the launch became possible. Our team, the Canservationists from The British School in The Netherlands, was there.

Although the progress during covid was challenging, in addition to the technical challenges we faced (further information and how we tackled these challenges can be found here and here), we managed to accomplish our mission. We even earned 3rd place at the national level (a final progress report and a very nice video can be found below)!

Our CanSat was in the first launch window and was launched around midday along with three other CanSats. (Many thanks to DARE TU Delft team for the great rockets and supporting the launches).

We were happy to see that our CanSat not only survived the landing but we were also able to collect all our intended measurements.

What went well:

Not only did we get our CanSat back in one piece, but it was fully intact as well. This showed that its construction was extremely robust and that our hand-made parachute worked!

As said, all the sensors worked and collected all the intended measurements (humidity, pressure, temperature, CO2, Total volatile organic compounds - TVOC). Our Arduino code that made all this possible can be found below. You will find the results below.

The chosen battery was good enough to support the whole process, irrespective of having the CanSat 'on' for quite some time before the launch (see results below).
Arduino code

What worked, but could be improved:

Our GPS sensor could not update the position fast enough to cope with the extremely fast moves during the launch. This also affected the enabling of our buzzer during landing which was supposed to be triggered by the GPS sensor. Fortunately, we were also measuring the altitude via pressure sensor which, despite a systematic error of some tens of metres, worked very well.

We managed to receive some of the measurements through telemetry, but not all the time. Given that we cannot change the CanSat itself very much (due to its size and power limitations), a more powerful ground station and a ground antenna with more gain than the Yagi we used may help.

Analysing the results, first, we had to identify the data that corresponded to the launch (and especially the landing). To this end, we used the altitude. In the figure below, the spike clearly indicates when the launch took place.

As we can see, our CanSat was ‘on’ for more than an hour until eventually was launched.

In the diagram below we can see that the GNSS (GPS) sensor could not cope with the abrupt changes (its measurements seem very ‘digital’).

In the figure below, the CO2 measurements are depicted. No concrete conclusion can be drawn, except from the fact that CO2 concentration increases significantly near the ground.

In the diagram below we can see that the GNSS (GPS) sensor could not cope with the abrupt changes (its measurements seem very ‘digital’).

In the diagram below the temperature measurements are depicted. The abrupt change during the launch is evident. Moreover, the measured temperature decreases as the CanSat goes down, instead of increasing as we normally would expect. This is due to the influence of the rocket during launch.

This is also the case with the TVOC measurements where, again, values increase rapidly near the ground.

Finally, the projection of the CanSat trajectory on earth, as captured by the integrated GPS sensor, is depicted below.

We would like to thank our mentors, Mr Hurley and Mr Eamonn, for their support and Mr Harrison and Mr Van Setten for accompanying us to the launch event.

CanSat competition

From September 2021 to April 2022

Turn a soda can (Can) into a satellite (Sat) with a mission; that is the mission of the CanSat competition. Student teams invent, build and test their own satellite. They compete against teams from all over the country. The ten best get the chance to launch their Cansat with a real rocket up to 1 km in height.
More information can be found here.

Evaggelos and Filippos Atlasis

Evaggelos and Filippos are students in the BSN Senior School Voorschoten and members of the small team that took part in the CanSat launch earlier this year.

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