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The University of Minnesota Sends CubeSat to Space

Jenna Burgett, a senior at the University of Minnesota, got a first-hand experience of the November 2 launch at NASA’s Virginia launching site as she was watching the rocket carrying a small satellite she helped to make launch into space. Sitting two miles away, she could feel the noise and reverberation, the coordinator of the Small Satellite Project at the university says.

The satellite is named Signal Opportunity CubeSat Ranging and Timing Experiment System (SOCRATES) and is the first-ever made by the university in a joint venture featuring university professors and students from a variety of space-related fields and engineering. The project is under NASA’s Undergraduate Student Instrument Project, which was started three years ago to give students opportunities to build and launch satellites into space.

More than 30 students from the university were interested in the program, led by Kyle Houser, the chief engineer and Burgett, the project manager. The SOCRATES was developed in the university’s Small Satellite Project Lab, founded by Demoz Gebre and physics professor Lindsay Glesener for a small satellite study.

The SOCRATES is fitted with state-of-the-art X-ray detection sensors to provide navigation when GPS is inaccessible. The satellite will also be able to capture information on electronic acceleration from solar flares to aid in the study of the solar phenomenon. The SOCRATES will be released to orbit the Earth in January 2020 from the International Space Station, where it is held at the moment.

The concept was developed in 2015. The proposals of the project were then approved, and the project got funding from the NASA USIP program and the MN Space Consortium. The students did most of the work, the professor’s report, explaining that they only served as mentors and supervisors being consulted for advice and suggestions. The students were also continually learning from NASA and other engineers during the process, a full experience that both Houser and Gebre-Egziabher think provides valuable lessons for students and everyone involved.

The satellite was sent to NASA in August after going through rigorous environmental tests to ascertain that it could survive in space. After deployment into orbit in January, the ground team will collect and monitor data from the satellite, including its temperature and voltage. The team is currently working on two other CubeSats scheduled for launch in 2021 and 2022, satellites that Glesener believes will be beneficial to the university, not only in the space department but in others as well.

This post was originally published on Food and Beverage Herald

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