Agriculture
Making the most of a meal
Middle school science adventures
Keeping Bugs Away from Food
Amphibians
Tree Frogs
Toads
Newts
Animals
How to Fly Like a Bat
Blotchy Face, Big-Time Wasp
Cacophony Acoustics
Behavior
The Snappy Lingo of Instant Messages
From dipping to fishing
Wake Up, Sleepy Gene
Birds
Parrots
Backyard Birds
Quails
Chemistry and Materials
Silk’s superpowers
Diamond Glow
Supergoo to the rescue
Computers
The solar system's biggest junkyard
Small but WISE
Earth from the inside out
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Mini T. rex
Teeny Skull Reveals Ancient Ancestor
Dino Takeout for Mammals
E Learning Jamaica
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Earth
Weird, new ant
Pollution at the ends of the Earth
A Global Warming Flap
Environment
Whale Watch
Pumping Up Poison Ivy
A 'Book' on Every Living Thing
Finding the Past
Words of the Distant Past
A Human Migration Fueled by Dung?
Untangling Human Origins
Fish
Sharks
Great White Shark
A Grim Future for Some Killer Whales
Food and Nutrition
In Search of the Perfect French Fry
The mercury in that tuna
Recipe for Health
GSAT English Rules
Order of Adjectives
Whoever vs. Whomever
Capitalization Rules
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
How are students placed after passing the GSAT exam
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
Access denied - Disabled boy aces GSAT
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
GSAT Mathematics
How to Slice a Cake Fairly
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Secrets of an Ancient Computer
Human Body
Flu Patrol
Speedy Gene Gives Runners a Boost
Sea Kids See Clearly Underwater
Invertebrates
Crabs
Earthworms
Mosquitos
Mammals
Dalmatians
Quolls
Lynxes
Parents
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
Children and Media
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
Physics
Project Music
Speedy stars
Powering Ball Lightning
Plants
Surprise Visitor
Fungus Hunt
Sweet, Sticky Science
Reptiles
Sea Turtles
Box Turtles
Rattlesnakes
Space and Astronomy
Galaxies Divide Sharply Along Color Lines
A Great Ball of Fire
Phantom Energy and the Big Rip
Technology and Engineering
Switchable Lenses Improve Vision
Weaving with Light
A Clean Getaway
The Parts of Speech
What is a Preposition?
Adjectives and Adverbs
Problems with Prepositions
Transportation
Morphing a Wing to Save Fuel
Reach for the Sky
Seen on the Science Fair Scene
Weather
A Dire Shortage of Water
The Best Defense Is a Good Snow Fence
Where rivers run uphill
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™