Ionospheric Phenomena are of great importance for the development of modern technologies, like GNSS and Radio Communication. This project aims to build up the knowledge regarding the behaviour of the ionosphere and the development of geolocation. This project is pilot environment for future deep space missions, consisting of studying a very complex set of CubeSats in formation flying. Also, different topologies for the space weather mission and the geolocation mission will be investigated. A third area of study is the development of a geolocation instrument. The ITASAT-2 project has main and supporting partners. Main partners are responsible for the project deliverables and must report to the Implementing Technical Subdirectory of DCTA. The main partners are ITA and TECHNION. In addition to a managing work-package, the project has also work-packages related to the NASA project management and systems engineering lifecycle.

The ITASAT-2 project plans to design, build, test and launch three 12U CubeSat observatories to study the ionized particles and magnetic fields in the ionosphere and to produce geolocation. The on-orbit observed ion movement and radio frequency scintillation will be used with Brazilian ground-based observations to allow the creation of scintillation prediction tools. Ionospheric structures, known as plasma bubbles, are the primary source of radar reflections in the equatorial F-region. The ITASAT-2 observatory will study the ionospheric state that gives rise to these plasma bubbles and how these bubbles relate to radio scintillations. The geolocation will be obtained by triangulation of the signals received by the satellites.

The ITASAT-2 project is not the first orbiting observatory to study the ionospheric structures known as plasma bubbles. Four other missions collected in-situ data; (1) San Marco, (2) Communications/Navigation Outage Forecasting System (C/NOFS), (3) Republic of China Satellite 1 (ROCSAT-1), and (4) Defence Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP). San Marco and C/NOFS experienced aliasing due to low inclination orbits. ROCSAT-1 and DMSP experienced infrequent plasma bubble occurrences due to the high-altitude orbits, and a scintillation correlation was difficult due to the convolution of longitude and local time.


The project proposal comprises the development, assembly, integration, and test of three 12U CubeSats. These CubeSats will be later inserted in orbit and operated for two years.

ITASAT-2 mission will address two specific questions:

  1. How does both evolving electron density and electrodynamic conditions in the lower ionosphere lead to the development of higher altitude structures and scintillations?
  2. How Radio Frequency (RF) sources on the ground or on the sea can be geolocated?

Since 2019, when the Brazilian Government made the decision of send a delegation of the Brazilian Air Force to Israel, both ITA and Technion have engaged significant effort on establishing a long-term research collaboration in Space Research. The joint activities performed so far include the organization of a workshop, participation of ITA professors and students in the discussion of technical subjects with Technion, such as CubeSat propulsion, the implementation of a geolocation strategy, and the development of join research projects. Among all these activities, we highlight the projects that are related to this SoW:

  • CubeSat Propulsion (on-going): This project aimed at design, development, on-ground tests and commissioning of a CubeSat Propulsion Subsystem, supporting industrial and academic demands and providing an ideal environment to explore existing or new methods in propulsion technology for CubeSats. The proposal was based upon technical meetings between Israeli and Brazilian partners and included the development and implementation of a Propulsion Subsystem for the ITASAT-2 project, comprising an engineering model (EM) and three flight models (FM), the use of laboratory facilities at Technion for the full qualification on the ground and the facilities at ITA, for the assembly, integration and test of the observatory.
  • Geolocation (proposed): The project is a joint Brazilian-Israeli effort funded by FINEP from the Brazilian side and by Israel Space Agency (ISA) from the Israeli side. The Brazilian partners are ITA/CEI and IACIT, while the Israeli partners are TECHNION/ASRI and Israeli industries. The project aimed at developing systematic and integrated approaches for geolocation and analyzing pilot-CubeSat interaction, based on analysis of space data of geolocation onboard sensors of RF emissions the ground.