Agriculture
Protecting Cows—and People—from a Deadly Disease
New Gene Fights Potato Blight
Where Have All the Bees Gone?
Amphibians
Frogs and Toads
Toads
Salamanders and Newts
Animals
Awake at Night
Staying Away from Sick Lobsters
Copybees
Behavior
Face values
Surprise Visitor
Ear pain, weight gain
Birds
Pheasants
Doves
Hawks
Chemistry and Materials
Pencil Thin
Mother-of-Pearl on Ice
A Diamond Polish for Ancient Tools
Computers
Music of the Future
Play for Science
Programming with Alice
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Ancient Critter Caught Shedding Its Skin
A Dino King's Ancestor
Tiny Pterodactyl
E Learning Jamaica
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Earth
In Antarctica watch the heat (and your step)
A Great Quake Coming?
The Rise of Yellowstone
Environment
Antarctica warms, which threatens penguins
Toxic Cleanups Get a Microbe Boost
Food Web Woes
Finding the Past
An Ancient Childhood
Oldest Writing in the New World
Childhood's Long History
Fish
Sting Ray
Flashlight Fishes
Catfish
Food and Nutrition
Moving Good Fats from Fish to Mice
Sponges' secret weapon
Packing Fat
GSAT English Rules
Pronouns
Adjectives and Adverbs
Problems with Prepositions
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
GSAT Exam Preparation
The Annual GSAT Scholarships
March 21-22, 2013: Over 43,000 students will take the GSAT Exam
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
Access denied - Disabled boy aces GSAT
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
GSAT Mathematics
Play for Science
Monkeys Count
Math and our number sense: PassGSAT.com
Human Body
Nature's Medicines
Tapeworms and Drug Delivery
Germ Zapper
Invertebrates
Bedbugs
Walking Sticks
Mollusks
Mammals
African Wild Dog
Whales
Bison
Parents
How children learn
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
The Surprising Meaning and Benefits of Nursery Rhymes
Physics
Extra Strings for New Sounds
Echoes of a Stretched Egg
Dreams of Floating in Space
Plants
Getting the dirt on carbon
The algae invasion
Stalking Plants by Scent
Reptiles
Gila Monsters
Black Mamba
Komodo Dragons
Space and Astronomy
A Dead Star's Dusty Ring
Super Star Cluster in the Neighborhood
A Family in Space
Technology and Engineering
Bionic Bacteria
Dancing with Robots
Musclebots Take Some Steps
The Parts of Speech
What is a Verb?
What is a Preposition?
What is a Noun
Transportation
Where rivers run uphill
Tinkering With the Basic Bike
Charged cars that would charge
Weather
Warmest Year on Record
Science loses out when ice caps melt
The Best Defense Is a Good Snow Fence
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™