Undergraduate and graduate students will be heavily involved in this Radio Aurora Explorer (RAX) project, led by the University of Michigan and SRI International, a California-based independent research and technology development organization.
This CubeSat, as it's called, will be the first free-flying spacecraft built in part by U-M students. Members of the Student Space Systems Fabrication Laboratory (S3FL) will play an important role. S3FL is an organization that gives students practical space systems design and fabrication experience.
"I'm extremely excited about the student involvement. They will be an integral part of the team," said James Cutler, assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and a principal investigator on the project.
CubeSats, developed about five years ago, are approximately four-inch cube-shaped devices that launch from inside a P-Pod, a special rocket attachment that was developed by California Polytechnic State University and Stanford University. There is a growing interest in CubeSats as they offer relatively inexpensive and simpler access to space. The RAX satellite will essentially be made of three CubeSats.
The RAX will measure the energy flow in the ionosphere, the highest part of Earth's atmosphere where solar radiation turns regular atoms into charged particles. Disturbances in the ionosphere can affect earth-to-space communications such as GPS signals, digital satellite television and voice and data transmission systems including Iridium and Globalstar.
"This project will help us better understand space weather processes, how the Earth and Sun interact, and how this weather produces noise in space communication signals---noise that translates to lower quality telecommunications capabilities and error in GPS signals," Cutler said.
The RAX satellite will act as a receiver that will pick up signals from a ground radar transmitter. These radar pulses will reflect off disturbances, or space weather phenomena, in the ionosphere.
RAX is scheduled for launch in December 2009. This will be a milestone for Kiko Dontchev, program manager in M-Cubed, the S3FL team that will be working with Cutler.
Dontchev, a master's student in space engineering, has been involved in S3FL since he was a freshman at U-M. Last year, he started the M-Cubed project with other students because they wanted to see the launch of a satellite they worked on. M-Cubed is designing a Cubesat that can take high resolution photos of earth, but it doesn't have a launch date yet.
"It's pretty incredible that we'll build and design a spacecraft that will actually fly," Dontchev said. "This project ensures that Michigan will have a profound footprint in the CubeSat community."
Michigan will receive $510,000 of the $891,000 RAX grant. The project's other principal investigator is Hasan Bahcivan, a research physicist at SRI International. The first launch opportunity for the NSF satellite program will be with the Department of Defense Space Test Program, aboard a Minotaur-4 launch vehicle out of Kodiak, Alaska. Commissioning and launch support for the mission will be provided by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Wallops Flight Facility. RAX is scheduled to be the first in a series of CubeSat missions funded by the NSF to study space weather phenomenon.
For more information:
James Cutler: http://aerospace.engin.umich.edu/people/faculty/cutler/index.html
SRI International: http://www.sri.com/
National Science Foundation: http://www.nsf.gov/Michigan Engineering:
Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake
12.12.2017 | Duke University
Two holograms in one surface
12.12.2017 | California Institute of Technology
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
14.12.2017 | Health and Medicine
14.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
14.12.2017 | Life Sciences