Research

 

Flight projects

Mission NameAcronymLaunch/Deploy DateDescription
Microwave Radiometer Technology AccelerationMiRaTA
mirataigarss2015
November 15, 2016 courtesy NASA CSLI ELaNA 14NASA ESTO-sponsored technology demonstration.
3-band CubeSat all-weather radiometer:
~60 GHz (temperature)
~183 GHz (humidity)
~207 GHz (cloud ice)
to achieve absolute calibration better than 1 K.
Demonstrate atmospheric GPSRO from a CubeSat platform, validate to 1.5 K.
Compare radiometer and GPSRO fields-of-view for cross-validation and to link radiometer calibration to NIST standards.
Microsized Microwave Atmospheric Satellite-2MicroMAS-2 or MM2
micromas2-smallsat2015
Summer 2016 (TBC)Reflight of MicroMAS-1 with additional radiometer bands (12 channel, 90-206 GHz scanning radiometer) and redundant radios.
Microsized Microwave Atmospheric SatelliteMicroMAS-1
micromassmallsat2015
July 13, 2014/March 4, 2015 from ISS courtesy NASA/NanoRacksScanning (40 rpm) passive 118 GHz microwave radiometer on a CubeSat for temperature mapping. Design demonstrated feasibility of approach. Radio transmitter failure 1 week into mission. With limited data, validated engineering subsystems but did not have time to turn on science instrument.
Transiting Exoplanet Survey SatelliteTESS
Transiting_Exoplanet_Survey_Satellite_artist_concept_(transparent_background)
August 2017Led by PI Dr. George Ricker, STAR Lab graduate student Tam Nguyen is supporting hardware and software development of the science payload.

Hardware development projects

NameAcronym/NameDescription
Nanosatellite Optical Downlink ExperimentNODE


node
Laser communications module for CubeSats. Uses two-stage control with a MEMS fast steering mirror as well as an 850 nm uplink beacon for pointing a 2 mrad beam. 10 W input power for >50 Mbps 1550 nm amplified laser to a 30 cm aperture ground station with a COTS APD. Demonstrated prototype. Next step is flight packaging and testing.
Miniature Particle Discriminating Radiation DetectorSparrow
sparrow2
Organic and inorganic scintillators with silicon photomultiplier detectors using fast readout so that particle type and energy can be determined. Prototype in development.
Deformable Mirror Demonstration MissionDeMi
demi
CubeSat scale instrument for characterizing the performance of high actuator count deformable mirrors on orbit using a Shack Hartmann wavefront sensor. Prototype in development.
Active Polarimetric Orbital Debris IdentificationpolarimetryBench-top active polarimeter experimentally determines the polarimetric Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function (BRDF) of several common spacecraft materials and coatings. Then we estimate each material’s Mueller matrix and associated polarimetric properties as a function of the illumination and viewing geometry. Prototype in development.

Software development projects

NameAcronym/NameDescription
System Event Evaluation RoutineSEER
seer
Analysis of commercial GEO communications satellite telemetry and comparison with data from GEO and other radiation sensors. Goal to evaluate how sensitive common ComSat components are to space weather and develop tools for prediction and identification of onboard anomalies.
Resource Aware SmallSat PlannerRASP
rasp
Mixed-Integer Linear Programming applied to small satellite constellations for optimizing observation times and targets while conserving resources.
Star tracker algorithmsTETRAApplications of hashing in star identification algorithms.
Extrasolar Giant Planets modelingEGPModeling of exoplanet albedo spectra using radiative transfer models.

Mission concepts

NameAcronymDescription
KitCubeKitCube
kitcube
MIT student-designed entry into the NASA CubeQuest Lunar Derby challenge. Uses green monopropellant propulsion system to achieve lunar orbit, and a laser communications downlink to achieve the best burst data rate.
Cubesat Atmospheric Probe Aeroshell and BaLloon ExperimentCAPABLE
capable
CubeSat deployable balloons