French space agency Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) has signed a launch services contract with Arianespace for the deployment of EyeSat astronomy mission into space.

Following its launch, the triple CubeSat-sized EyeSat nanosatellite will examine zodiacal light and image the Milky Way.

As part of the new contract, Arianespace will launch EyeSat as an auxiliary payload with the COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation (CSG 1) and CHEOPS satellites from Guiana Space Center in French Guiana.

The launch is scheduled to be carried out onboard an Arianespace Soyuz rocket within this year.

“Thanks to the EyeSat triple CubeSat, CNES will be able to test in orbit a dozen new miniaturised technologies developed through our research and technology programme.”

The EyeSat mission will primarily perform three tasks, including scientific observations by studying zodiacal light in the visible bandwidth in both polarised and non-polarised modes, as well as capturing a coloured image of the Milky Way.

It will also demonstrate new CNES-developed satellite technologies and train space engineering students.

CNES Orbital Systems director Marie-Anne Claire said: “Thanks to the EyeSat triple CubeSat, CNES will be able to test in orbit a dozen new miniaturised technologies developed through our research and technology programme.

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“We also helped train more than 250 students in space engineering professions.”

CNES is involved in both the funding and development of EyeSat as part of the Janus project, which aims to encourage students in universities and engineering schools to develop their own nanosatellites.

EyeSat is equipped with the IRIS instrument, a small space telescope.

With a liftoff mass of roughly 8kg, the satellite will be launched into a Sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 500km.

In a separate development, CNES has awarded a contract to Arianespace to launch the country’s first nanosatellite, ARGOS Néo, on a Generic Economical and Light Satellite (ANGELS).

ANGELS is to be launched as an auxiliary payload with the CSG 1 and CHEOPS satellites by a Soyuz rocket this year from Guiana Space Center.