The University of Southampton has been involved in space debris research for over 20 years and UOS3 is planning to support that interest. The satellite will collect precise orbit and attitude data as its orbit decays under the influence of atmospheric drag, which will be used to validate re-entry prediction tools.
Currently, re-entry predictions for space objects are accurate to a typical residual lifetime prediction error of 10-20%; 1 day before re-entry, it is only possible to narrow down the re-entry time to within 1-2 orbits. Validation of re-entry models will allow researchers to reduce the error in re-entry prediction, and provide more precise and accurate re-entry timings.
The UoS3 project is undertaken with the support of the Education Office of the European Space Agency, under the educational Fly your Satellite! Programme; an ESA educational programme complementing academic education.