Student and amateur CubeSat news roundup – Nov.28.2018

A sampling of recent articles, press releases, etc. about student and amateur CubeSat / SmallSat projects and programs:

** CubeSat to Attempt Solar Sail in Orbit –

Purdue University professor, David Spencer is leading an effort to send a CubeSat up for an attempted controlled solar sailing in Earth’s orbit. Solar sailing uses reflective sails to harness the momentum of sunlight for propulsion….

This project is sponsored by the citizen-funded Planetary Society, whose CEO is Bill Nye the Science Guy.

The CubeSat, LightSail 2, is one payload as part of the Air Force’s Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission that will launch on the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket in early 2019. Spencer’s research team will be tracking LightSail 2, receiving the signal from the spacecraft as well as commanding the spacecraft during operations, from the Space Flight Projects Lab at the Purdue Technology Center.

** NNU students watch InSight landing, prepare for own satellite launch – Boise, ID

“So the Marco is about double the size of RFTSat, but it’s really cool to see how NASA and JPL are also using cube sats and how NNU is using them too,” said Cox.

The Marcos being cube satellite’s used in conjunction with NASA’s InSight that landed on Mars Monday.

And engineering students at NNU are in the building stages of a satellite with similar features called RFTSat, which is also a version of a cube satellite.

** Towards drop your thesis 2018: 4.7 seconds of microgravity conditions to enable future CubeSat landings on asteroids – S. Cuartielles et al, Cranfield University

An increasing number of interplanetary missions are aiming at visiting asteroids and other small bodies, since these may provide clues to understand the formation and evolution of our Solar System. CubeSats allow a low-cost solution to land on these objects, as opposed to risking a much more expensive mothership. The weak gravitational field on these small bodies may also enable the possibility of simply dropping a CubeSat from afar (i.e. ballistic landing).

However, ballistic landing of an unpowered spacecraft may be feasible solely within certain asteroid locations, and only if sufficient energy can be dissipated at touchdown. If such conditions are not met, the spacecraft will rebound off the surface. It is likely that the necessary energy dissipation may already occur naturally due to energy loss expected through the deformation of the regolith during touchdown. Indeed, previous low-velocity impact experiments in microgravity seem to indicate that this is exactly the case. However, data from past asteroid touchdowns, Hayabusa and Philae, indicate the contrary.

This paper describes the development of an experiment which aims to bridge the aforementioned disagreement between mission data and microgravity experiment; to understand the behaviour of CubeSat landing on asteroids. …

** Cal Poly’s Latest CubeSat Reveals First High-Resolution Image of the Earth – Cal Poly News – Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

While Cal Poly’s ninth CubeSat tests a way to reduce vibrations aboard orbiting satellites, the softball-sized satellite also has been busy snapping photos of the Earth.

DAVE, or Damping and Vibrations Experiment, launched Sept. 15 from Vandenberg Air Force Base with three other small satellites, or CubeSats, as secondary payload on NASA’s ICESat-2 (Ice Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite-2) mission.

PolySat, the student-run research lab, released its first high-resolution image that was snapped just hours after the launch. The photo shows Svalbard, the Norwegian archipelago located between Norway and the North Pole.

“This is one of our better pictures,” said Grigory Heaton, a senior studying aerospace engineering and physics. “Our satellite is not controlled. It’s just spinning, so we have to get lucky with the pictures. This one, we were right overhead and got almost the entire archipelago.”

The Norwegian archipelago Svalbard as imaged by Cal Poly CubeSat DAVE.

See also Cal Poly satellite captures photos of Earth |

** AMSAT news on student and amateur CubeSat/smallsat projects: ANS-329 AMSAT News Service Special Bulletin

  • Fox-1Cliff Launch Scheduled for 28-Nov-2018 at 18:32 UTC
  • Robert Bankston, KE4AL, Elected AMSAT Vice-President of User Services
  • Fox-1Cliff Launch – Your Help is Needed!
  • ESA Announces “First Telemetry” Contest for ESEO
  • Happy 5th Birthday FUNcube-1
  • FCC Dismisses AMSAT’s 2004 Petition for Reconsideration
  • Upcoming ARISS Contact Schedule
  • Satellite Shorts From All Over

Other CubeSat news & info:

MarCO-B, one of the experimental Mars Cube One (MarCO) CubeSats, took this image of Mars from about 4,700 miles (7,600 kilometers) away during its flyby of the Red Planet on Nov. 26, 2018. MarCO-B was flying by Mars with its twin, MarCO-A, to attempt to serve as communications relays for NASA’s InSight spacecraft as it landed on Mars. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Full image and caption


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