A multi-disciplinary team involving more than 40 U of S students from engineering, computer science, physics and business, as well as several students from Saskatchewan Polytechnic, has been awarded $200,000 in the CubeSat competition. The CSA will also cover costs associated with the CubeSat space launch.
“This funding is transformative for a group of brilliant students who have done an exceptional job of multidisciplinary collaboration and mentoring of junior team members,” said U of S College of Engineering Dean Suzanne Kresta. “They truly have put Canada on the map among an elite international group of students and universities.”
The U of S Space Design Team will now need to raise an additional $200,000 to match the CSA funds. USask, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, and companies in the private sector such as SED Systems and Innocorps Research Corporation, have already provided cash or in-kind support, and additional fundraising options are being explored.
The satellite will involve two 10cm by 10cm by 10cm cubes attached together—roughly the size of two Rubik’s cubes. Once tested, the tiny satellite will be launched to and deployed from the International Space Station to study how materials—ranging from ceramics to space suit fabrics—degrade in space.
“We are very excited to partner with Sask Polytech on this initiative that will encourage teamwork and guidance from CSA and space industry experts and help develop and train Canada’s next generation of space science researchers and engineers,” said Sean Maw, lead investigator and holder of the Jerry Huff Chair in Innovative Teaching in the College of Engineering at the U of S.
The project will look at how potentially useful construction materials are affected by extreme temperatures, radiation, and space debris in low Earth orbit, said co-lead investigator Doug Degenstein, professor of engineering physics.
“The students will study material changes in colour, texture, brittleness, and electrical conductivity. The results of the study could lead to more cost-efficient solutions for the space sector,” said Degenstein, who is lead researcher for the satellite instrument OSIRIS (Optical Spectrograph and InfraRed Imager System) that was CSA’s contribution to the multi-national Odin space mission.
Jamie Hilts, dean of both Sask Polytech’s School of Mining, Energy and Manufacturing and its School of Natural Resources and Built Environment, highlighted the fact that the project provides Sask Polytech students with an opportunity to collaborate, problem-solve and build relationships with peers from USask.
“Building a satellite is an exceptional applied learning experience,” Hilts said. “Sask Polytech is excited to contribute our computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing expertise and tools to the success of this project.”
Simone Hagey, a U of S physics student who is one of three student managers for the satellite project, is excited to have the opportunity to access space as an undergraduate student. It’s anticipated that there will be 40 to 60 students involved from across campus.
“I am very excited about the scale of this. It’s a huge group of people, and learning to manage that many people over several years will be a great opportunity,” she said.
Founded in 2005, the U of S Space Design Team has won several international awards for innovations that include developing space elevators, rovers, rocket payloads, and materials science microgravity experiments.
Over the past four years, more than 30 undergraduates have been working on the Saskorpion rover that holds promise forsearch and rescue work, autonomous navigation, equipment servicing, mapping/surveying, and astrobiology investigation.
Saskorpion, the team’s largest (1.25 m by 1.25 m) yet lightest rover to date, uses 3D and 360-degree cameras, enabling the rover to track objects in all directions when operating autonomously and giving operators a virtual reality experience.
“We are excited to evaluate the robot for work on Mars by testing it in the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah in June,” said U of S Space Design Team president Danno Peters.
To support the USask Space Design Team’s CubeSat project, visit: give.usask.ca
For more information:
- About the U of S Space Design Team: usst.ca
- About the U of S Institute for Space and Atmospheric Studies: Institute of Space and Atmospheric Studies
- About the Canadian Space Agency’s CubeSat program: cubestat
Media Relations Specialist
University of Saskatchewan