Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

University of Colorado student-built satellite selected for flight by NASA

28.01.2010
Satellite only the size of a Rubik's Cube

A tiny communications satellite designed and built by University of Colorado at Boulder undergraduates has been selected as one of three university research satellites to be launched into orbit in November as part of a NASA space education initiative.

The three satellites, dubbed "CubeSats" because of their shape, were built by CU-Boulder, Montana State University and Kentucky Space, which is a consortium of state universities. CubeSats are roughly four inches on a side, have a volume of about one quart and weigh about 2.2 pounds. The satellites are being flown as part of NASA's Educational Launch of Nanosatellite, or ELaNA, mission, said Chris Koehler, director of the Colorado Space Grant Consortium, or COSGC, which is headquartered at CU-Boulder.

The CU-Boulder satellite, named Hermes, was designed, built and tested by roughly 100 COSGC students on the CU-Boulder campus -- nearly all undergraduates -- over a period of about two and one-half years, said Koehler. The goal of the mission is to improve communications systems in tiny satellites through on-orbit testing of a high data-rate communication system that will allow scientists and engineers to downlink large quantities of information.

"This is great news for the students and for the Colorado Space Grant Consortium," said Koehler. "This is a homegrown CU-Boulder satellite and these students have pushed the capabilities of communication systems by integrating them into a very tiny satellite." Based in the CU-Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Science, COSGC is funded by NASA and is a statewide organization involving 16 colleges, universities and institutions around Colorado.

Koehler said it is challenging to find launch opportunities for student satellites like Hermes. The three student satellites will be attached to a Taurus XL launch vehicle that also will launch NASA's Glory mission to study solar radiation. CU-Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics designed and built a multimillion dollar solar payload for the Glory mission known as the Total Irradiance Monitor that will measure the total light coming from the sun at all wavelengths to help determine the energy balance of the planet.

CU-Boulder senior Nicole Doyle, project manager for Hermes and an aerospace engineering sciences department major, said the satellite has two communications systems. "One will allow us to 'talk' to the satellite and the other one will be used to test the high-speed communications system. If we are successful, the hopes are it can be used on other satellites."

The three CubeSat satellites will be attached to the Taurus XL rocket in a mechanical system known as a PPOD developed by the California Polytechnic State University in partnership with Stanford University. Once the rocket reaches about 385 miles high, the satellites will be ejected from the PPOD and will spring off into separate orbits, said Doyle.

The CU-Boulder satellite will be in contact with a COSGC ground station atop the Discovery Learning Center at the CU-Boulder engineering college. A second ground station is being built by the COSGC students in Longmont, about 15 miles northeast of Boulder, to monitor the high-speed communications data system, said Doyle.

"We are all really excited for launch," said Doyle. "We are now in our final push to test the communication sequence system and to finish our environmental testing, which includes vibration and vacuum chamber tests to verify that the satellite can survive in orbit."

Doyle said that when she got to CU-Boulder she was surprised to discover undergraduates had regular opportunities to design, build, test and fly spacecraft. "A number of students in my classes were talking about building satellites, so I decided to see what it was all about. That's when I came into the Colorado Space Grant Consortium," she said.

"This has been an incredible experience for me," said Doyle. "We learn from other CU students who are working on other space projects and who have experience in the kinds of research we are doing with Hermes. This is a great opportunity for students like me who want to work in the aerospace industry after college."

COSGC provides Colorado higher education students access to space through innovative courses, real-world, hands-on space hardware and satellite programs. The students interact with engineers and scientists from NASA and aerospace companies to develop, test and fly new space technologies on high-altitude balloons, sounding rockets and orbiting satellites.

Of the 52 space grant consortiums in the United States, Colorado's has been active in designing, building and flying 10 sounding rocket payloads, three space shuttle payloads, a satellite and hundreds of balloon experiments in the past 20 years, Koehler said.

For more information on COSGC visit: http://spacegrant.colorado.edu/.

Chris Koehler | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.colorado.edu

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht How protons move through a fuel cell
22.06.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

nachricht Fraunhofer IZFP acquires lucrative EU project for increasing nuclear power plant safety
21.06.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>