Agriculture
Fast-flying fungal spores
Vitamin D-licious Mushrooms
Silk’s superpowers
Amphibians
Poison Dart Frogs
Newts
Tree Frogs
Animals
A Spider's Taste for Blood
Fishy Sounds
Professor Ant
Behavior
Giving Sharks Safe Homes
Reading Body Language
The Snappy Lingo of Instant Messages
Birds
Crows
Mockingbirds
Swans
Chemistry and Materials
A Butterfly's Electric Glow
Sticky Silky Feet
Big Machine Reveals Small Worlds
Computers
Hitting the redo button on evolution
Fingerprint Evidence
Batteries built by Viruses
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Fingerprinting Fossils
Meet your mysterious relative
Big Fish in Ancient Waters
E Learning Jamaica
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
Earth
Bugs with Gas
Sky Dust Keeps Falling on Your Head
Unnatural Disasters
Environment
Eating Up Foul Sewage Smells
Out in the Cold
Improving the Camel
Finding the Past
Digging Up Stone Age Art
An Ancient Childhood
Stone Age Sole Survivors
Fish
Lampreys
Manta Rays
Electric Eel
Food and Nutrition
Making good, brown fat
Yummy bugs
Strong Bones for Life
GSAT English Rules
Order of Adjectives
Who vs. Whom
Who vs. That vs. Which
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
Scotiabank Jamaica Foundation Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) Scholarships
Mastering The GSAT Exam
Tarrant High overcoming the odds
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
Access denied - Disabled boy aces GSAT
GSAT Mathematics
Monkeys Count
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
A Sweet Advance in Candy Packing
Human Body
Don't Eat That Sandwich!
A Long Trek to Asia
A Fix for Injured Knees
Invertebrates
Wasps
Bedbugs
Giant Squid
Mammals
Cows
Grizzly Bear
Killer Whales
Parents
Raise a Lifelong Reader by Reading Aloud
Children and Media
The Surprising Meaning and Benefits of Nursery Rhymes
Physics
Einstein's Skateboard
Gaining a Swift Lift
Black Hole Journey
Plants
Springing forward
Getting the dirt on carbon
Hungry bug seeks hot meal
Reptiles
Gila Monsters
Asp
Sea Turtles
Space and Astronomy
Ready, Set, Supernova
Super Star Cluster in the Neighborhood
Wrong-way planets do gymnastics
Technology and Engineering
Riding Sunlight
Crime Lab
Beyond Bar Codes
The Parts of Speech
Countable and Uncountable Nouns
What is a Verb?
Adjectives and Adverbs
Transportation
Flying the Hyper Skies
Charged cars that would charge
Ready, unplug, drive
Weather
Recipe for a Hurricane
Watering the Air
Warmest Year on Record
Add your Article

A Satellite of Your Own

A rocket soars into space. It releases a satellite, which goes into orbit around Earth. The satellite begins collecting data and sending signals. You listen in on the information coming from outer space, proud that you played a role in designing and constructing the satellite.

Just a dream?

Launched in 1999, NASA's Terra satellite orbits Earth, collecting environmental data. Building and operating the satellite has cost more than 1 billion dollars.

Launched in 1999, NASA’s Terra satellite orbits Earth, collecting environmental data. Building and operating the satellite has cost more than 1 billion dollars.

NASA

Building a traditional Earth-orbiting satellite normally takes years. Construction costs can be as high as $250 million, or more. Most members of the design teams have worked in the field for a long time. They hold advanced degrees in math, science, or engineering.

But things are changing. High costs, stiff educational requirements, and long start-up times are no longer an obstacle to space exploration, says Bob Twiggs, who’s an engineer at Stanford University. Twiggs and his coworkers have developed a new generation of small, inexpensive Earth-orbiting satellites that go from concept to launch in a year.

The whole point of these low-cost satellites, Twiggs says, is to teach students as much as possible about how satellites work.

Bob Twiggs of Stanford University holds an inexpensive, cube-shaped satellite, or CubeSat.

Bob Twiggs of Stanford University holds an inexpensive, cube-shaped satellite, or CubeSat.

Courtesy of Ben Yuan

So far, college students have built and launched about a dozen of these cube-shaped satellites, or CubeSats, Twiggs says. At least 15 more are ready to go. Those already in orbit take pictures, collect data, and transmit information back to Earth, just as regular satellites do.

Satellites for kids

But you might not even have to wait until you get to college to start designing and building your own satellite. A new program called KatySat (which stands for “Kids Aren’t Too Young for Satellites”) aims to get teenagers involved, too.

“My goal is to increase the relevance of space to more people,” says Ben Yuan, an engineer at Lockheed Martin in Menlo Park, Calif. He came up with the idea for KatySat, which brings the CubeSat program to high schools.

 
 

The KatySat approach “simplifies space technology to its most basic components,” he says. “We aren’t worried about how powerful or cutting-edge [the technology] is. We’re worried about making it accessible and simple enough.”

Once kids understand what satellites can do, Yuan adds, the kinds of applications they’ll come up with may be unlimited.

“We’d like to put this technology in your hands,” he tells kids. “We’re going to teach you how to operate a satellite. Then, we want to turn it over to you as a sandbox for you to play in. We want you to take the technology into new directions that we haven’t thought of yet.”

A compact package

A standard CubeSat is 10 centimeters (4 inches) long on each side and weighs about 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds). It takes about $40,000 to build a CubeSat and the same amount to launch it.

Depending on the type of equipment inside, a CubeSat can take pictures, collect data for experiments, and do other scientific tasks. The first KatySat, which Yuan is working on with students at Independence High School in San Jose, Calif., will have two radios. One radio will transmit high-quality photos to students on the ground. The other radio will be for communication.

A standard CubeSat is about 10 centimeters long on each side and weighs about 1 kilogram. This one, developed by students at the University of Tokyo, was the first CubeSat to be launched into orbit.

A standard CubeSat is about 10 centimeters long on each side and weighs about 1 kilogram. This one, developed by students at the University of Tokyo, was the first CubeSat to be launched into orbit.

Courtesy of Ben Yuan

Yuan envisions students at different schools talking to each other by satellite. He also wants students to use KatySat to choreograph multimedia presentations on the computers of their peers around the world.

Education isn’t the only goal of CubeSats, Twiggs says. Because these tiny, technology-filled boxes are relatively inexpensive to build and can be put together quickly, they’re perfect for testing new technologies that might one day be used on major space missions.

The biggest challenge now facing researchers is to find ways to bring the satellites back to Earth after a year or two. Otherwise, major highways of space junk could accumulate as CubeSats become more common and students move on to other projects.

In the meantime, college and high school students are getting a chance to learn what it takes to venture into space.

Someday—perhaps a lot sooner than you’d imagined—you might get to design, build, and launch your own satellite. If you do, you’re bound to have fun. And you might also get hooked on science for life.

A Satellite of Your Own
A Satellite of Your Own








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™