What is a CubeSat?
CubeSats are miniature satellites which provide a standardized, inexpensive design that can easily fit alongside larger cargo on space-bound craft. They are built from a modular structure of 10x10x10cm cubes (hence the name). Many vendors provide a variety of commercially available components designed to fit the structure.
What Are They For?
The CubeSat model has given student groups, hobbyists, and researchers operating with limited funding or experience unprecedented access to space. Since the program’s adoption, hundreds of universities, companies, and research organization have followed the design standard and successfully launched their own CubeSats for space exploration, scientific research, and technological development.
The YUAA CubeSat team is designing and building a CubeSat that will carry a cosmic ray detector to measure high-energy protons and electrons originating from the sun and outside the galaxy. The team will collect information on the density and count of these particles above a certain threshold, make inferences as to the energy of the particles, and identify each particle it detects.
Good News from Outer Space:
In 2019, previous project leader Keshav Raghavan, secured a launch slot and contract with NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative. This year’s project team is working tirelessly to meet NASA requirements, and secure the resources it needs to build a successful satellite. In correspondence with NASA and Yale faculty, YUAA is planning to launch the satellite in spring of 2021! The satellite will be in an orbit of ~4,000 km, the approximate altitude of the International Space Station.
A Brief History
The CubeSat project is a multi-year project now in its fifth year. Led in previous years by Betsy Li (’18), Michael van der Linden (’19), and Kathan Roberts (’20), Keshav Raghavan (21), the project is now led by Claire Laffan (’21).
Project Seconds are Jack Ross (’22) (Hardware), Annie Polish (’21) (Radio Communications), Tom Digby (’20) (Cosmic Ray Detector), and Andrew Krzywosz (’21) (Computer Systems and Programming).