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AFRL announces winners of student satellite competition

  • Published
  • By Air Force Research Laboratory
Students representing 10 universities competed for the chance to send a satellite they designed and built into space. The competition was sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory's Space Vehicles Directorate University Nanosat Program.

The first four winners included Missouri University of Science and Technology, the University of Colorado at Boulder, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Taylor University respectively.

Boston University and State University of New York at Buffalo tied for the fifth spot. Judges will break the tie during upcoming visits to both universities where they will conduct a deep dive into their respective programs.

"We are excited that we were able to expand the number of winners from one to five this year, allowing more teams the opportunity to send their satellite to space and, in turn, increasing the scientific and technology benefits of the program," said Dr. David Voss, a University Nanosat Program manager. "We had a remarkable field of competitors this year, and we commend the hard work, passion and professionalism of these young great minds."

Each winning school will receive $110,000 from the Air Force Office of Science and Technology, and mission support from AFRL/Space Vehicles to finish preparing their satellites for launch. Now in its eighth cycle, this is the first time multiple winners were selected.

The University Nanosat Program was established in 1999 by AFRL and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research as a way to inspire and train the next generation of space professionals. It is a rigorous two-year concept to flight ready spacecraft competition, and the only program in the country that gives university students the opportunity to actually participate in U.S. spacecraft development. Approximately 5,000 students from 32 universities have participated in the program and several of their satellites have been sent to space.

Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, University of California Los Angeles, University of Florida and New Mexico State University also competed.

Winning schools and descriptions of projects:

Missouri University of Science & Technology, M-SAT (SSA/Prox Ops) - Determine physical characteristics of an uncooperative residential space object (URSO) by utilizing visible light and infrared images. Estimate and track the trajectory of an URSO. Perform visual-based proximity operations to characterize the physical structure of an URSO.

Colorado University at Boulder, PolarCube (Upper Atmospheric Imaging) - PolarCube shall study the Earth's tropospheric temperature patterns in the polar regions and observe the extent of sea ice/open ocean boundaries through atmospheric temperature sounding with the 118.7503 gigahertz oxygen resonance

Georgia Institute of Technology, RECONSO (Defensive Space/Prox Ops) - RECONSO's mission is to place a passive optical sensor in a low-Earth orbit. This sensor will be used to detect and track transient objects within its field of view. The detected objects will be analyzed to generate track information from the optical observations made to help study space debris.

Taylor University, ELEO-SAT (SSA/Space Weather Effects) - To study ionospheric structure, temperature, and composition, their effects on very low frequency trans-ionospheric propagation and the efficiency of VLF-lightning-induced electron precipitation coupling and to open up the F-region for further nanosatellite studies

Boston University, ANDESITE (Space Weather Effects) - ANDESITE will evaluate a space based - wireless sensor network to examine the spatial and temporal variability of the current density within the region 1 and region 2 Birkeland currents through in situ magnetic field measurements.

State University of New York at Buffalo, GLADOS (SSA) - Utilize multi-band photometric data of glinting space objects to identify their type, surface materials, and orientation.