xChip SL01 is Going to Space!

xChip SL01 is Going to Space!

What is XinaBox Light Sensor SL01?

XinaBox SL01 is a light sensor xChip that is used for data collection of ultraviolet, and visible lights while its partner SL19 measures infrared in space.

Its success can be judged by the fact that it has been in use since the last two years, and over a hundred schools have used it for collecting data so that students can better understand the concept and working of natural light. Moreover, Sensor Light 01 was the first light sensor xChip to be used in schools and industry.

SL01 and Natural Light Measurement

Sensor Light 01 can measure a range of different wavelengths as is described below:

The wavelengths in light spectrum that XinaBox SL01 can measure

Visible Light

Natural light coming from the sun includes a range of different wavelengths. Of them, SL01 can measure those that belong to the visible spectrum of light, the light that we can see. It is measured in LUX. All the colours of the rainbow are in the visible light range.

Due to the absence of atmosphere to absorb any of the sun’s rays in space, the natural light that will hit this light sensor will be much brighter when it faces the sun. It gets very hot when close to the sun, due to different wavelengths of light being absorbed, while cools down near the earth. Despite that, this sensor has been specifically designed to measure very high doses of visible light.

Ultraviolet Light

The ultraviolet light belongs to that part of the electromagnetic spectrum which cannot be “seen” by living creatures’ eyes, as the wavelengths are too short. The sun produces three kinds of UV rays, UVA, UVB, and UVC as shown in the illustration.

Although the Ozone Layer that surrounds our earth, pretty much, protects us from most of the ultraviolet light reaching us, it can’t keep all of it away. SL01 has helped the students in developing a better understanding of how UV light affects us. SL01 in space can measure UVA and UVB and that too, without the protection of the earth’s atmosphere. It even encounters the very harmful UVC rays, as they are absorbed by the ozone. Its code calculates the UVI, which is very useful to protect living creatures from sun damage.

Ultraviolet ray absorption in the atmosphere

With their findings through Sensor Light 01, students can greatly benefit themselves and the world by sharing with it their knowledge and creating awareness on the value of a healthy atmosphere and the protection of the ozone layer.

The students can learn how damage to our atmosphere and ozone layer can lead to greater exposure to UVA light which can cause skin damage such as wrinkles and premature skin aging.

UVB, on the other hand, can burn our skin and can even lead to skin cancer.

Ultraviolet rays penetrating the skin

Data Transmission by SL01

All the data collected by SL01 will be transmitted using a radio, on the Globalstar network. This radio is usually used in satellite phones in remote areas on earth, and yet such a technology can be found in this light sensor. It is fitted with one of these tiny radio chips. The data will appear on the Space Data Dashboard, and one can expect it to be very interesting, especially as the sensor moves from an area of full sun exposure to earth’s shade. The details of which will be shared in the next post.

Journey Back Earth

The journey undertaken by the SL01 will be a short one as it will begin to re-enter earth’s atmosphere after a few days. As it does so, it will encounter resistance and friction from the air molecules, resulting in heat production.

Even here the SL01 will continue on its journey to impart as much as it can knowledge to its users. The students can see what happens as the atmosphere gets thicker and thicker through the data collected by it. Unfortunately, though, its life will come to an end as it’ll burn up in the atmosphere and turn back to the atoms from which it was once made. So, it won’t make it back all the way to the surface.

XinaBox SL01's Twin

The black space xChip is the SL01, and its twin is the standard industrial and school xChip used every day in the classroom.

Unlike the SL01, it cannot go into space, as the corners need to be trimmed to fit into the satellite frame. Other than their shape and colour, they are identical.


Over one hundred schools have participated in this ground-breaking space journey to collect data, aptly called the ThinSat® Programme. More about it can be found here, https://www.vaspace.org/index.php/thinsat-program.

The launch takes place on the 17th April 2019, with the Cygnus NG-11 mission from Wallops Island in Virginia, USA. Fifty-five student’s ThinSats will be deployed at an altitude of roughly 250 km and will enter what is known as Extreme Low Earth Orbit (ELEO). Their task will be to collect data at this unique altitude, which has never been studied before. The satellites’ orbits will degrade, and they will re-enter the atmosphere after ten days. As these pico-satellites are only the size of a slice of bread, they will burn up completely in the atmosphere, and will not endanger anyone on our planet.

If you would like to know more and want your school to participate or follow the programme, please contact Judi Sandrock at js@xinabox.cc, or visit our website https://xinabox.cc/.

About XinaBox

XinaBox designs, develops, and sells modular electronics for the IoT and STEM education markets, in senior schools as well as universities. The technology allows for rapid IoT, embedded and electronics prototyping and development, without soldering, wiring or other hardware knowledge. Just plain simple coding.

By radically reducing prototyping requirements using XinaBox’s xChips, the technology saves on laboratory equipment and engineering know-how, whether in schools, universities or industry. In the same breath, XinaBox accelerates speed-to-market by creating scalable and upgradeable solutions.

Built-in redundancy ensures reliability, security and robustness.


  • No need for soldering, or digital sensors, XinaBox can stream data in minutes.
  • No lab, or infrastructure required, XinaBox can work anywhere on its own.
  • Packaged with sample Arduino code, experiments and lesson plans, making teaching and learning much easier.

The XinaBox community develops projects and experiments to solve challenges and answer questions requiring precise data collection and analysis.

XinaBox’s Ecosystem Composition

  • Sensors, digital and analog inputs.
  • Core processing modules
  • Power solutions
  • Output, radio, and communication solutions
  • Accessories and bridges to all popular single board computers

XinaBox is used in classrooms, industrial environments and in the field of collecting research data in extreme environments, along with planning for space, the Moon, Mars and beyond.

You can find out more about the XinaBox SL01 here https://xinabox.cc/products/sl01. The satellite that it rides on in its journey into space can be seen here https://www.vaspace.org/index.php/thinsat-program. The next you’ll hear from it will be from its orbit in space so until then all one can say is…FLY SAFE!

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