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Clearly not a duplicate! of Why does the International Space Station have a downward facing light?


This answer to How does the Starlink satellite shine? begins with

Starlink (and other satellites) categorically do not have exterior lights or illumination, that would be a waste of power for no particular benefit.

and that got me thinking. FITSat-1 was a 1U cubesat and had a bunch of LEDs on its exterior. It was programmed to blink Morse code and designed to be visible to people on the ground.

Question: Is this the only case of a satellite equipped with lights designed to be seen by people on Earth? I'm primarily asking about satellites that were built and ready to fly rather than plans or designs.

From eoPoportal's FITSat-1 (Fukuoka Institute of Technology CubeSat) / Niwaka

FITSat-1 (Fukuoka Institute of Technology CubeSat)

FITSat-1 (Fukuoka Institute of Technology CubeSat)

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Humanity Star

According to Wikipedia:

Humanity Star was a passive satellite designed to produce flares visible from Earth. Its shape was a geodesic sphere about 1 metre (3 ft) in diameter, similar to a large disco ball. It was launched into polar orbit on an Electron rocket by Rocket Lab in January 2018 and reentered the atmosphere on 22 March 2018. According to Rocket Lab, it was meant to be "a bright symbol and reminder to all on Earth about our fragile place in the universe".

enter image description here

While it was not equipped with lights, it was equipped with mirrors designed to shine the Sun's light back at the Earth. I'm surprised I didn't hear about this when it happened.

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    $\begingroup$ You would have if you were here a while back: five questions tagged humanitystar and one in Math SE, also here’s three about Mayak (Маяк) 1, 2, 3 and one about the Orbital Reflector. But here I've asked about lights rather than mirrors. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Dec 21, 2019 at 3:35
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Ginrei

Yes! Ginrei is an LED satellite launched in 2014:

Ginrei or ShindaiSat was a 400x400x450mm cube-like microsatellite intended to text experimental visible light communication. The satellite is made in Shinshu University (Japan). The ground station was completed by 18 March 2014 and attempts to communicate with satellite have started the same day. 2-way optical communication with ground station is planned. Also, advanced attitude control using visible light communication is planned as well.

Note

Here are the CubeSats with FITSAT-1 in it! I think there is a possibility F-1 or TechEdSat-1 is also an LED satellite.

enter image description here

CubeSats deployed to orbit from the International Space Station on 4 October 2012 (from left: TechEdSat-1, F-1 and FITSAT-1).


3rd times the charm ;3

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