Projects

OwlSat CubeSat: Rice’s Ride to Space

Read the proposal submitted to NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative: 2019-2020 CSLI Proposal

The 2019 Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) Chapter of Rice University has developed a design proposal for a CubeSat platform to analyze the relationship between solar activity and the Earth’s lower atmosphere.

Energetic emissions from the sun can have tangible effects upon the Earth’s atmosphere. Increased EUV radiation caused by solar activity adds energy to the particles that compose the atmosphere, causing the atmosphere to expand. This movement increases the amount of atmospheric drag satellites encounter and subsequently raises their rate of orbital decay.

The proposal describes the OwlSat CubeSat (referred to as OwlSat), a 1U (10x10x11 cm) CubeSat Satellite that will record EUV (extreme ultraviolet) radiation measurements of the Sun, the satellite’s orbital velocity, and the satellite’s orbital position (altitude) to characterize how varying EUV values modulate the orbital decay rate of a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) CubeSat over time. This comparison will serve as the basis for a new linear regression orbital propagation model created and updated via an iterative Deep-Layered Neural Networks (DNN) that will enable future scientists and engineers to make more comprehensive predictions for orbiting bodies, such as space debris and small satellites.

Additionally, the charged particles emitted by the sun contribute primarily to the lethality of ionizing radiation, a danger that must be studied further if humans are to make a prolonged presence in LEO. The OwlSat CubeSat will measure the levels of ionizing radiation at LEO and use that data to synthesize a second linear regression model capable of predicting the altitudes of maximum radiation pressure, helping mission planners plan for the physical health of astronauts during extreme solar weather events.

The OwlSat CubeSat includes 4 EUV radiation sensors that measure solar activity, 3 heavy-particle detectors used to determine levels of harmful ionized particles found within LEO, 3 accelerometers used to monitor the velocity of the satellite, and a GPS receiver used to determine the location and altitude of the satellite.

RUNNER UP: Astranis SEDS Sat-2 Competition

About the Competition:

The Astranis SEDS SAT-2 competition calls on SEDS chapters across the country to submit a design for a novel 1U CubeSat that will then be launched and deployed by NanoRacks, LLC, with Astranis donating the cost of the launch.

The competition was officially launched at SpaceVision 2018, where the Request for Proposal (RFP) was released, and an Astranis/NanoRacks workshop was held to give teams an introduction to designing, building, and integrating a CubeSat for low Earth orbit.

Participating SEDS Chapters:

Arizona State University
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Florida Institute of Technology
MIT/Tufts/Northeastern
Purdue University
Rice University
Texas A&M University
University of California San Diego
University of Central Florida
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Utah State University
Virginia Tech

SEDS USA Press Release: SEDS Announces Winners of Astranis SEDS Sat-2

Astranis Press Release: Why We’re Helping a Student Satellite Get to Space

See the full proposal for the SEDS Sat-2 Competition here: CubeSat Proposal – OwlSat

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