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11 July, 2022  |  Read Time: 4 minutes  |  Research

Do a PhD with Binar

Our whole program grew out of PhD projects. Now we’re looking to grow a little bit more.

We’re looking for PhD students to help us build the next generation of Australian small spacecraft. Most projects will be fully funded with a scholarship for full-time Australian students. There may be options for part-time study or international students for some projects too – contact the supervisor for each project with any questions.

Building More Reliable Small Spacecraft

This project aims to investigate ways to build small spacecraft with additional fault tolerance while minimising the added complexity to better inform the space systems architecture used on future Binar space missions.

Initial investigations will focus on producing a ground based prototypes demonstrating networked microcontroller or FPGA based flight computers to demonstrate and characterise their performance under hot spare, cold spare, supervisory and load sharing redundancy configurations.

Following the testing of the ground prototype, a demonstration flight model will be developed for on-orbit testing based on the lessons learned from the ground testing phase.

The key outcomes will be lessons learned on developing small spacecraft system architectures with increased redundancy but minimal complexity, results from testing and iterating the ground prototypes, results from the on-orbit demonstration and the associated publications.

Supervised by Dr Robert Howie – more details here.


Magnetically Quiet Small Spacecraft for Planetary Magnetometry

Magnetometry is one of the fundamental geophysical datasets for determining the current state and evolution of planetary bodies, but spacecraft generate low frequency magnetic interference from the operation of spacecraft subsystems (such as solenoid valves in propulsion systems and reaction wheels powered by electric motors in attitude determination and control systems).

This project will develop prototype low magnetic signature spacecraft subsystems focusing on developing alternative methods for attitude control that don’t depend on reaction wheels powered by electric motors such as miniaturised reaction control thrusters and alternative methods of powering reaction wheels such as electrostatic or ultrasonic motors.

Initial work will focus on quantifying the electro magnetic signature of traditional CubeSat subsystems and shielding and field cancellation techniques to mitigate their signature. This will be followed by developing and testing ground based prototype magnetically quiet subsystems which will inform the development of a ground prototype spacecraft and flight demonstration hardware to follow.

This project will present opportunities to build hardware that will fly in space and opportunities to engage with SSTC’s industry partners.

Supervised by Dr Robert Howie – more details here.


Terrestrial and Space Based High Speed Imaging for Planetary Science

Our current fireball cameras capture meteoroid trajectories with high spatial precision, but the temporal resolution is limited by the encoded long exposure captures which encode timing at around 10 samples per second.

However, fireball radiometers are hard to calibrate due to the large dynamic range and temperature sensitivity of the electronics. To obtain high time resolution data without these drawbacks SSTC would like to develop low (spatial) resolution but high frame rate (240-2000 fps) all-sky imaging systems for the fireball camera network. We envisaged this would be built upon power efficient machine vision cameras and processing hardware. The project may involve fusion of high spatial resolution observations from the photographic camera with high temporal resolution observations from the new imaging system.

We would also like to determine if the same or a similar system would be suitable for observing Lunar meteoroid impact flashes to gather additional meteoroid flux data and observing fireballs from low Earth orbit on a future Binar spacecraft. This project may present and opportunity to build imaging payloads to fly on future Binar spacecraft.

Supervised by Dr Hadrien Devillepoix – more details here.

Less of an engineer, more of a scientist?

Head over to to see more opportunities with our planetary science and meteorite recovery teams.


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