The rigid boom hangs downward, because of gravity, which creates torque. USU student researchers believe it will stabilize a cube satellite, so it can take clear pictures and host certain types of experiments that can't be conducted on a spinning satellite.
"Most satellites require some kind of active control to keep them from straying from orbit and spinning out of control," said
All of which add weight and cost, he said.
"It comes down to trying to make space cheaper and more accessible to universities and other research groups," Gardiner said. "By adding torque into the cubesat system, it reduces the up-and-down movement.
"That's important, because most satellites spin, so they can't take pictures or run certain experiments. We would be able to take pictures and run different experiments that measure different things, because of the up-and-down stabilization."
Cubesat radio boards and other parts can be purchased from suppliers or built, Gardiner said. USU's boom is the innovation. The balloon is about a half-inch in diameter and inflates to a length of about 36 inches.
"To our knowledge, this has never been attempted before with a cubesat," he said.
From 1982 to 2001, USU's Get Away Special Team flew 11 GAS payloads on 10 shuttle flights containing more than 30 student-built experiments -- the most from any university. But with the close of
In 2010, 2011 and 2012, members of the USU student team boarded a
Most satellites are now deployed as secondary payload on missions to the
"Without access to a space vehicle, we have to access space in different ways," said USU GAS Team member
Gardiner said the boom could increase the control level in affordable cubesats.
"It's a less expensive and simpler way to control small satellites in low earth orbit," he said.
Interest is high in the use of light-weight materials impregnated with UV-rigidizing epoxy, Gardiner said. Astronauts traveling to the moon or Mars might need a structure upon arrival.
"It costs too much to ship large objects, but if you could get there and inflate a balloon that would harden on the surface, you could get a rigid structure," he said.
The cubesat, with boom, is currently in the design stage, Gardiner said. A design review will begin in October, and the group hopes to build the actual device and start testing by about May. Assuming
(c)2013 the Standard-Examiner (Ogden, Utah)
Visit the Standard-Examiner (Ogden, Utah) at www.standard.net
Distributed by MCT Information Services