UGA’s Small Satellite Research Lab searches stars for solutions on Earth | Campus news
“The only thing we don’t do is physically launch the rocket,” said Jeffery John, program director at the Small Satellite Research Lab. The lab works with a number of regulatory and government agencies, including NASA, the University Nanosatellite Program, the US Air Force Research Lab, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In addition to securing resources and funding, John said these partnerships ensure that “the satellite’s in-orbit life can do as much good as it can.”
Currently, the lab has three cubic satellite projects: the Multi-view On-board Computational Imager, or MOCI, the Mission for Education and Multimedia Engagement Satellite, or MEMESat, and the Spectral Ocean Color Satellite, or SPOC. Members of the lab are also currently working on a fourth mission proposal. The exact purpose and scope of this mission is not yet set in stone, but it is known by the acronym COMPASS. Members of the laboratory are also engaged in community outreach. Students visit local high schools, organize public events, and strive to provide a unique learning experience through MEMESat. This project is being done in partnership with the nonprofit Let’s Go To Space, Inc. to create radio stations that will allow people to share memes from space to engage audiences in satellite-based research. .
“It will make a huge difference in the future of policy making as we monitor the ecological impacts of what’s going on right now,” John said. A poster with a NASA astronaut titled “We Need You” hangs above the lab exit – a call to action for budding scientists of this generation.
Each mission’s scope is different, but all allow the lab’s work to extend far beyond the confines of the physics building’s basement. MOCI, for example, is designed to map a 3D view of the Earth’s terrain. The laboratory’s satellite access also allows it to provide the public with hyper-localized climate data free of charge. Cubic satellites are named after the basic “cube” unit from which they are built. MEMESat is a single unit satellite, SPOC is a three unit long satellite, and MOCI, nicknamed “Big Boi” by students, is a three unit by two satellite, and therefore the largest the lab is currently building. If approved, COMPASS would steal the crown of Big Boi, as a 12-unit satellite that is twice the size of MOCI.
“Not everyone who walks into the lab is really interested in space or aerospace, but having to solve these problems and think about these different situations provides a huge benefit to people in the long run,” said Parker Ensing. , chief engineer and responsible for flights. “People don’t really understand why we are spending money on space when we have so many problems on the ground, but in many ways the methodology we use to solve these problems applies to both situations. , so getting people to work on things like that’s inherently helpful, and I think that makes us a better company for that.
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