Weekly Report #11: Ground Station

This week’s report is all about our ground station.

So, why do we need a ground station?

Like in real spaceflight (well, ours is also real, but unfortunately it’s not like the boys and girls from NASA and ESA are doing rocket science) we want to know on earth what’s going on in space or within the rocket and if our experiments are performing as we expect them to do.

How does it work?

With our ground station we will be able to receive real-time data from the SMARD rocket module. It consists of two PCs, one for a MySQL database and the second one for a LabVIEW-based software.

The data will be received via a RS-232 link and then forwarded to the LabVIEW application which will then decode and analyze it. After breaking it into parts, those will then be send to the database and stored for further use.

Here you can see a small part of the LabVIEW “code”:


What can we see during the flight?

Now the data is stored in the database, but if you would look at them, they’d only be nonsense numbers for the human eye. So we need several software clients, which are also written in LabVIEW to display the data in diagrams, certain graphics and status displays. Now we can see in almost real-time, what’s really going on within the SMARD rocket module and most importantly, if the solar panel had been released. Furthermore we can monitor data from several sensors, such as acceleration, temperature, voltage and many more.

Over & out

Alex, ground station engineer