Geophysics research on ISS Russian Segment

Microsatellite Experiment


  • Development testing of microsatellite (with mass up to 50 kg) injection from transport cargo vehicle (TCV) Progress with the use of transport-launch container fastened by operators to docking assembly (DA) ring.
  • Comprehensive investigations of physical processes during the atmospheric lighting discharges based on microsatellite Chibis-M.


  • Test of the technical solutions forming the basis for transport and launch container (TLC) structure with respect to delivery and separation of the microsatellite (MS) from TCV Progress.
  • Verification of technological solutions concerning TLC and MS testing, as well as processing and assembly operations in support of the MS delivery to the ISS.
  • Verification of the procedure for operations with TLC and MS during preparation for and conduct of space experiment onboard both TCV and the ISS RS.
  • Testing of the procedure for MS ascent and injection into a higher ( 500 km) orbit via TCV Progress.
  • Implementation of safe ballistic configuration during MS Chibis-M separation from TCV Progress.
  • Conduct of comprehensive investigations of the atmospheric lightning discharges under the program of microsatellite Chibis-M free flight.

MS Chibis-M weight-dimension characteristics

Mass - up to 40 kg
Overall dimensions when folded - hexagonal prism with overall dimensions:
370 mm (circumscribed circle diameter), 540 mm (length)
Overall dimensions when deployed
(antennas and solar arrays)
- 1360 mm (circumscribed circle diameter), 840 mm (length)
Overall dimensions when deployed,
with due regard for gravitational stabilizer
- 1360 mm (circumscribed circle diameter), 2800 mm (length)

Science Hardware Used:

Scientific equipment system "Groza" incorporated into microsatellite performs the following scientific tasks during making measurements in orbit to study:

  1. step leader of high-altitude lightnings
  2. high-altitude distribution of cloud-to-cloud discharges;
  3. narrow bipolar radio pulses (NBP);
  4. bursts of UV radiation;
  5. radio emission background;
  6. electromagnetic parameters of weather in space.

Scientific equipment system "Groza" includes the following:

  • X- and gamma-ray detector XGD (50 - 500 Kev)
    to record the sporadic increase (bursts) of penetrating X- and gamma-ray radiation of high-altitude atmospheric discharges.
  • Ultraviolet detector UVD (300 - 450 nm)
    to record bursts of ultraviolet and infrared radiation of high-altitude atmospheric discharges.
  • Radio frequency analyzer RFA (20-50 MHz)
    to provide reception of radio frequency signals in a frequency band of 26-48 MHz.
  • Optical band camera DPC (spatial resolution of 300 m)
    to record a fact of lightning and projection of the lightning discharge on the clouds; reference of the discharge center to the coordinate system of DPC equipment.
  • Data collection unit DCU-Ch
    to provide the command-data communication of Groza equipment with the onboard control complex.
  • Scientific information transmitter
    to provide scientific information dump.
  • Magnetic wave complex MWC (0.1 - 40 kHz)
    to measure electromagnetic parameters of "space weather".
Microsatellite Chibis-M free flight

Hardware Used:

  • Microsatellite Chibis-M with a set of science hardware Groza installed in it.
  • Launch container (LC)
    designed for delivery of microsatellite (MS) in the transport position in the vehicle cargo compartment and MS launch upon LC installation in the working position on the frame ring of the docking assembly.
  • Connecting cable
    designed for connection of the launch container with the vehicle power switching unit which shall give a command for the locking mechanism operation for MS separation from the launch container.


Microsatellite Chibis-M fastened on TLC as part of TCV Progress M-13M is delivered to the ISS RS.
Prior to undocking, after stowage of disposable cargoes, TLC together with MS is changed over from transport to an operating position:

  • TCV DA docking mechanism is dismantled;
  • Power supply cable is connected to TLC to provide power for charging of MS buffer chemical accumulator batteries;
  • TLC is secured on the docking assembly ring; clearance between TLC and DA ring is closed by protective shield; in so doing, transfer hatch cover on the TCV side is left open.

Upon TCV undocking with the ISS RS and carrying out separation maneuvers with the ISS, orientation relative to OCS is being constructed for the MS separation. Immediately after TCV undocking with the ISS RS, the process of buffer chemical accumulators charging starts on the ground command.
MS Chibis is separated from TCV Progress-M on the ground command.
Photography and video filming record the process of TCV with TLC installed separation from the ISS RS, as well as the MS separation from TCV.
Microsatellite will further perform its mission completely independently, with no subsequent interaction with the ISS, TCV and will be under control of the dedicated CGS in the town of Kaluga.
MCC-M will be responsible for microsatellite prelaunch processing and launch.

Expected Results:

Detailed study of physical mechanisms of electrical discharges in the atmosphere in the most wide energy range, namely from radio to gamma-ray radiation.
Development of new methods for experimental investigations of the Earth and near-earth space environment using the achievements of physical instrument-making, microelectronics and micromechanics for their implementation on microsatellite buses (MB).
Elaboration of methods to adopt modern design and production process solutions in the development of MB structures and systems.
Analysis and development of methods to control micro- and nanospace platforms onboard systems to provide high requirements for their orientation and stabilization, imposed by the mentioned experiments.

Experiment Results:

  • photographic information on location of the launch container with microsatellite Chibis-M on the frame ring of Progress vehicle docking assembly;
  • video information on microsatellite Chibis-M separation from Progress LC;
  • scientific information on parameters of the electromagnetic situation in microsatellite in flight, recorded by the set of science hardware Groza.

ISS Crew

Hoshide  AkihikoHoshide

leg Novitskiy Novitskiy

Petr Dubrov Dubrov

Mark Vande Hei Vande Hei

Robert Shane

Megan McArthur McArthur