The UGA Small Satellite Research Laboratory was founded in 2016 with the goal of launching a student built spacecraft - a CubeSat - into low earth orbit. Our mission is to place UGA among the top spacefaring universities in the world and to give UGA a permanent presence in outer space. We aim to teach students how to design, build, and operate spacecraft while providing our faculty with unique space-based data.
The CubeSat is a new standard that allows students to access space like never before. We can design, build, and control our own miniature spacecraft. CubeSat's are a class of small satellites composed of modular units 10cmx10cmx10cm in size, but the entire satellite cannot be larger than 1.33kg. Scroll down and let us give you a example walk through of what is in a typical CubeSat.
Like any other space craft, a CubeSat needs energy to survive. Solar panels help provide the satellite with energy so that it can power its systems. Solar panels are the standard of power generation in Low Earth Orbit.
The frame of the CubeSat holds all the important systems and boards in place. The frame also helps dissipate excess heat while the satellite is in orbit. When the satellite is launched, the frame helps insure that all of the parts stay in place and the system is structurally stable.
The ADCS is the satillite's Attitude Determination and Control System. This is what lets the CubeSat move around and reorient itself in space. While not all CubeSat missions require an ADCS, most missions that require some level of precision will.
The payload of the CubeSat is the instrument that gathers the primary scientific data in orbit. Every mission has a different payload, so here we have an example camera payload. This system could image the earth in fine detail from Low Earth Orbit.
At the heart of the CubeSat is the computer, but don't let its size fool you. Though it may be small, it can be more powerful than the Apollo moon mission's flight computers. Thanks to smart phones, we are able to cram more computational power into a small space than ever before. In some cases, these boards can even run a Linux kernel.
The spacecraft that we deisgn, build, and test in the Small Satellite Research Laboratory (as well as most CubeSats in general) are all similar to this design. If you are a student with an interest in spacecraft, why don't you join us?