indica News Bureau-
A team led by Indian American Yale undergraduate student, Keshav Raghavan, has been chosen for the first time by NASA to launch miniature satellites called CubeSats for space research.
Raghavan 21, is a part of a team called the Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association (YUAA.) The project they are working on is called the Bouchet Low-Earth Alpha/Beta Space Telescope (BLAST.)BLAST, developed by Raghavan, is a low-cost cosmic ray detector, that once in orbit will collect data about particles traveling to earth from distant supernovae.
According to a statement released by NASA, “It is a scientific investigation mission to map the distribution of galactic cosmic radiation across the night sky. The satellite will identify and count alpha particles and beta particles in the rays, and measure the radiation energy around Earth. BLAST will contribute to the ongoing search for the origins and nature of these rays, which will provide insight into the origins of the universe.”
According to Andrew Krzywosz, co-president of YUAA, “Typical CubeSat projects cost about USD 30,000, while the one developed by the team will cost around $13,000 to $20,000.”
The project has been selected by NASA as one of 16 teams across the country whose CubeSats will be flown into space. These will be auxiliary payloads on space missions planned to launch in 2020, 2021, and 2022.
Raghavan’s YUAA team has finished the initial research and has now progressed to prototyping the satellite. The team is currently using the Wright Lab, at Yale University, to test altitude control systems and other launch-ready elements. The team will also assemble the final satellite here, with guidance from the lab’s community and resource faculty.
The project has taken four years so far to materialize and was led by the other team members in the initial years. The team is being mentored by senior research scientist and CEID Design Mentor, Larry Wilen. Wilen also serves as the associate director of Instrumentation and Education for the Wright Lab. James Nikkel, Associate Research Scientist, is also one of the additional mentors for the team.
CubeSats are miniature satellites for space research. They derive their name from their make of 10×10×10 cm cubes. These were first developed in 1999 by Stanford University and California Polytechnic State University. Initially, they were intended to be an inexpensive solution to complement other satellites on launch vehicles.
CubeSats became popular with hobbyists, amateur scientists, and space enthusiasts as it gave them unprecedented space access. They were easy to build, as they only included widely commercially available components. Since then, many companies, students, and researchers have launched their own CubeSats; and conducted their own space explorations. Today, they are often used as secondary payloads on a launch vehicle. Raghavan’s project will be the first-ever Yale undergraduate endeavor to launch a satellite.