Just In Time: Students Finish New CubeSat Before School Closes.

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Coronavirus Shut Down Schools and Public Institutions Across the Nation, But These Students Still Finished Their New CubeSat In Time!

After eight years of development involving 150 Boston University students, the team responsible for a new CubeSat mission was ready. Then the coronavirus outbreak happened. The outbreak has certainly thrown a wrench into the works of many systems in America over the past two weeks. As such, many government institutions have either closed or mandated telecommuting for any non-essential personnel. That includes schools. Most brick & mortar schools and universities across the country have either closed or converted to online classes. That being the case, the team at Boston University feels especially lucky to have finished work on their new CubeSat project before the school closed.

The Mission:

The Boston University team finished its work just in time on a small six-unit CubeSat they call “The Toaster.” The mission CubeSat, called ANDESITE, which stands for Ad-Hoc Network Demonstration for Extended Satellite-Based Inquiry, takes up about as much space as a toaster. The ANDESITE CubeSat will create a small wireless network in space by ejecting eight smaller nodes from the main satellite. Those nodes will mesh together and relay data from onboard magnetometers back to the mothership using minimally-powered radios. 

Just in Time

The new CubeSat will launch from the LC-1 Rocket Lab Launch Complex in Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand. The launch is scheduled for Thursday, March 26th, 2020 at 5:43 pm local time. (9:43 pm PDT) However, university officials announced on March 17th that all in-person classes and gatherings were canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Fortunately, the week before, ANDESITE lead engineer Aleks Zosuls and a graduate student finished up integrating their new CubeSat in California. Then they shipped the toaster off to New Zealand, where it’ll launch next week.

Apart from the data on magnetic fields, the mission is significant in other ways. “The most unique aspect of ANDESITE is that it’s got small satellite nodes inside of the spacecraft,” Jason Armstrong, launch integration services director for TriSept, said. “When they release the small nodes in orbit, this will demonstrate an interconnected network of small spacecraft to assess magnetic impacts of the atmosphere.”

Now all that’s left is to sit back and watch the launch next week.

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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