The main payload while undergoing the testing phase. Credits: ARIS

SAGE CubeSat: Investigating the Aging of the Human Cells in Space

Designed to be launched in 2025, the SAGE CubeSat is manufactured by various Swiss universities. Here we analyze the objectives of the project

Hands-on activities are crucial for students, especially for the engineering ones. ARIS, a non-profit association founded in 2017, aims to provide students with the opportunity to gain practical experience in an interdisciplinary space project within a favorable environment.

SAGE stands for the Swiss Artificial Gravity Experiment, and two ambitious objectives drive this three-unit CubeSat. The first is to examine how microgravity conditions in low Earth orbit (LEO) affect the aging of human cells, while the second is to explore artificial gravity generation within the microgravity range typical of small moons and asteroids.

SAGE CubeSat Development Model
SAGE CubeSat Development Model. Credits: ARIS/Regina Sablotny


A human model inside the CubeSat

As said, one of the two goals of the mission is to study the process of human cell aging within the microgravity environment of low Earth orbit, by investigating the response of eukaryotic cells to cytotoxic and cytostatic drugs under microgravity conditions.

Designed to maintain a state-of-the-art human model system under ideal conditions within the satellite’s payload, a task typically necessitating a complex medical laboratory setup, this mission will acquire a wide number of scientific data directly in orbit. The payload has two main components: a microfluidic chip and a fluorescence miniaturized microscope. The chip will allow the optimal growth of the cells inside by feeding and controlling their number, while the microscope will capture images at a sub-cellular resolution.

The main payload while undergoing the testing phase. Credits: ARIS
Testing phase for the main payload. Credits: ARIS/Regina Sablotny

The secondary objectives

Apart from the scientific goal of the mission, the team wants to promote STEM disciplines to students by designing and manufacturing an amateur UHF to S-band radio transponder that will take the place of the first payload when the latter finishes its mission. This gives the opportunity to the students to gain a hands-on experience on the project, and to develop knowledge in radio technology.

Finally, as an additional payload, two Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) technologies entirely developed by ETH will be tested in orbit.

As proof of the quality of the work the team is doing, following several months of design, SAGE successfully earned a place in the ESA Fly Your Satellite Design Booster program, alongside five other teams representing various parts of Europe.

    The team working on the CubeSat.
    The team working on the CubeSat. Credits: ARIS/Regina Sablotny


    About ARIS

    ARIS is a non-profit association founded in 2017 and led by students of five universities: ETH Zürich, HSLU, UZH, OST, and ZHAW. The purpose of this association is to give the possibility to young students to practice in the engineering world through hands-on activities in several projects like the SAGE CubeSat.

    The vision of the group, clearly expressed on the website, is to contribute to the advancement of life and to take part in exploring its origins by developing systems meant for space, representing the fact that they want to be engaged in activities and innovations that promote both the progress of life on Earth and the exploration of the origins of life in space through the development of specialized space systems.

    The SAGE team. Credits: ARIS
    A representation of the SAGE team. Credits: ARIS/Regina Sablotny


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    Giovanni Facchinetti

    Giovanni Facchinetti

    Space Engineering student from Bergamo, Italy. Founder and content creator, sometimes I write articles here.
    In my free time, I love to play football, meet new people and traveling.

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