Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Student-Built Satellite Scheduled for Launch

10.09.2010
A 6.5-pound satellite is scheduled to become the first stand-alone spacecraft built by Michigan students to go into orbit and perform a science mission.

The Radio Aurora Explorer (RAX) is slated for launch Nov. 19 from Kodiak, Alaska. Its primary mission is to study how plasma instabilities in the highest layers of the atmosphere disrupt communication and navigation signals between Earth and orbiting satellites.

Working with scientists, students will use the data from RAX to build models that can forecast when these anomalies will occur. This will enable satellite operators to plan communications and operations around these disruptions.

"People rely on satellites on a daily basis for weather information, communications systems and defense. If the operators can't get their commands up, then the satellites can't perform their intended functions," said Matt Bennett, RAX team leader.

"The space weather anomalies that RAX will study are called magnetic field-aligned plasma irregularities," Bennett said. "When these irregularities occur, signals from the ground are scattered and the satellite doesn't receive them. They can form anywhere around the globe, but are a major problem at northern latitudes where we see other space weather phenomena such as the Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights."

Bennett, who graduated in May with a master's in space systems engineering and now works at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, led a team of approximately 20 students from across the College of Engineering who designed, built and tested RAX. After launch, these students will take charge of spacecraft operations while it is in orbit. They will send commands, conduct science experiments, study the performance of spacecraft components, and analyze the science data collected by a network of communication stations on the ground.

"I'm incredibly impressed with these students," said team adviser James Cutler, an assistant professor in the departments of Aerospace Engineering and Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences. "They're passionate. They're excited. They're, in many ways, inspirational."

RAX is a three-unit CubeSat, which is three times the length of a standard CubeSat. CubeSats are approximately four inches per side. They are designed to fit inside a standard pod mechanism that can be attached to launch vehicles when there is spare mass and volume for other satellites to share the launch.

"There is a growing interest in CubeSats, especially for student projects, as they offer relatively inexpensive and simple access to space," Cutler said.

The students involved in this project range from undergraduate to graduate students from the Aerospace Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences departments. Many of these students are also part of the Student Space Systems Fabrication Lab, or S3FL, an organization dedicated to providing students with practical space systems design and fabrication experience.

While this will be the first stand-alone spacecraft built by students to go into orbit, it is part of a long history of space research at U-M. University of Michigan researchers have built or are involved with instruments currently aboard spacecraft on 14 missions across the solar system. And a host of other additional suborbital remote sensing and mass spectrometry spacecraft and satellite projects are underway through the Space Physics Research Laboratory.

The RAX project is funded by the National Science Foundation.

For more information:

RAX Website: http://rax.engin.umich.edu/

2008 Press release: Researchers and students to develop small CubeSat satellites: http://www.ns.umich.edu/htdocs/releases/story.php?id=6760

S3FL: http://esse.engin.umich.edu/s3fl/

James Cutler: http://aerospace.engin.umich.edu/people/faculty/cutler/index.html

Michigan Engineering:
The University of Michigan College of Engineering is ranked among the top engineering schools in the country. At $160 million annually, its engineering research budget is one of largest of any public university. Michigan Engineering is home to 11 academic departments and a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center. The college plays a leading role in the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute and hosts the world class Lurie Nanofabrication Facility. Find out more at http://www.engin.umich.edu/.

EDITORS: Watch and link to a video at: http://www.ns.umich.edu/podcast/video2.php?id=1258

Nicole Casal Moore | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.umich.edu
http://www.engin.umich.edu/

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Ultra-precise chip-scale sensor detects unprecedentedly small changes at the nanoscale
18.01.2017 | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

nachricht Data analysis optimizes cyber-physical systems in telecommunications and building automation
18.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Algorithmen und Wissenschaftliches Rechnen SCAI

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika

23.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>