A Satellite Named Violet & A Student Named Amanda
Reported December 2011
NEW YORK (Ivanhoe Newswire) --When you hear about satellites and space, you probably think NASA. Now, students are joining the ranks and building some pretty unique spacecraft. We’ll show you the latest in student satellite design.
By day, Amanda Kuczun is a typical college senior. By night, she’s working in a sterile clean room building a satellite to be used in space.
“It’s not often that you get to say on your evenings after doing homework, you get to go and build a satellite,” Amanda Kuczun, a mechanical engineering student at Cornell University told Ivanhoe.
The satellite, called Violet was designed and built by Cornell University mechanical engineering students with help from aerospace engineers. Weighing in at about 100 pounds, its small size gives it unique abilities.
“The smaller the spacecraft is, the quicker it can move, the quicker it can move from place to place,” Mason Peck, Ph.D., aerospace engineer at Cornell University told Ivanhoe.
Large satellites move and tilt slowly to take images of the planet that we see on websites like Google earth. The new satellite is a leader in faster spacecraft.
“By tilting quickly it’s able to take for example pictures of space or the earth much more efficiently than other satellites can,” Dr. Peck said.
The compact, cube-shaped satellite is equipped with devices called moment gyroscopes that help rotate the satellite very quickly -- up to 20 times faster than traditional satellites. Once it reaches orbit around the earth, it will be the fastest moving satellite in space, all on its own.
“The spacecraft has tools on board to be able to figure out where the sun is, where the earth is, where the stars are, so it can navigate by itself," Dr. Peck explained.
Countdown to launch is in one to two years. The space age experience has been a good one for Amanda.
“Not only have I learned things alongside with my classes, but I’ve also learned a lot of new concepts and new tools to being an engineer that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise,” Kuczun concluded.
A real life experience that’s out of this world.
The satellite placed second in the United States Air Force Research Lab’s 6th University Nano-Sat program in January. The satellite is sponsored by NASA and the Air Force.
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